Saturday, June 21, 2008

Taraf Story Alleges 2007 Coup Plan

The Islamist daily Taraf recently published a story alleging that the Turkish General Staff had drawn up plans for a coup last September (see June 5 post). This coup is in fact different from the 2004 coup plan Nokta is said to have revealed in March 2007 and into which Public Prosecutor Suleyman Aydin had called for an investigation. Most significant, the reported coup plans include Land Forces Commander Gen. İlker Başbuğ who is set to replace Büyükanıt as leader of the Turkish Armed Services (TSK) come August. TSK denies that the document in question was authorized by the General Staff. From Today's Zaman:
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has devised a comprehensive plan of action to intervene in politics and civilian life, a leaked army document printed in the Taraf daily yesterday showed.

The army's plan went into force in September 2007, according to the Information Support Activity Action Plan, which is composed of a series of "measures" against the government, which the military deems the source of a "religious reactionary movement."

The document defines its goal as: "Bringing public opinion into line with the TSK on issues the TSK is sensitive about, preventing the development of incorrect opinions about the TSK, ensuring the unity and solidarity of opinions and actions within the TSK." The same introductory chapter issues a caveat, stressing the need to avoid, "conflict with other state agencies" and relaying "the image of intervening in daily politics."

The plan also emphasizes it is necessary to "bring universities, presidents of the higher judiciary, press members and artists into line with the TSK because they have the power to foment public opinion, and to ensure that these individuals act in the same way as the TSK."

Of note is a secret meeting between Constitutional Court Justice Osman Paksüt and Land Forces Commander Gen. İlker Başbuğ, also recently exposed by Taraf. The plan claims the AK Party government and its municipalities are organizing activities to spread an Islamic lifestyle in society. The document also defines a new constitution drafted by the AK Party as against the idea of "nation-state." According to the action plan: "The government is continuing to effectively use all the legitimate means of democracy, such as schools, dormitories, companies, associations and the media, in organizing and shaping the society. It is also known that Islamist centers have gone a significant distance in hiring their own in state institutions." The document also said the public had to be shown that the TSK was not against religion and that for the TSK, "religion is a necessary institution."

The document is in the form of a Microsoft Excel worksheet. Every individual and unit in the General Staff Department is assigned a code, making it difficult for the uninformed to discern which department or person the document is referring to. An official document proves that the Excel document was in fact created at the General Staff's Office, Taraf claims.

The plan also includes a schedule. The names of individuals and organizations the army decided to work together with have been withheld in the plan, but they are frequently referred to by the usage of expressions such as, "trustworthy names," "civil society organizations," "the proper media organs," or "those who have similar opinions to the TSK."
Taraf reporter Yasemin Çongar uncovered the document and a translation of her story is available from Today's Zaman.

In recent weeks, Islamist papers like Taraf and Vakif have directed a great amount of criticism toward Gen. Başbuğ, much of it anti-Semitic and bordering on the ridiculous. However, if the memorandum is validated and the story proved to have a strong basic in fact, the revelation will subject the TSK to many questions. Much of the reportage about Ergenekon and plans for past coups is to the political benefit of pro-AKP supporters wishing to shore up their democratic credentials. With much of the reportage being quite vague in details and using unnamed sources, it is very difficult discern how much of these stories are based in legitimate fact, how many of the facts contained therein rely on government sources (no doubt with their own agendas), and how much of the information might be exagerrated at best, and at worst, completely cooked, by any number of sources. Turkey has plenty of Ahmed Chalabi-type figures and when combined with the ready ears of highly-partisan presses, it is completely impossible to really know just what to believe and what to not.

No comments: