Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Crisis Coming . . . Here?

Gen. Ibrahim Fırtına, Gen. Ergin Saygun, Navy Cmdr. Özden Örnek, Gen. Çetin Doğan and Lt. Gen. Ayhan Taş
PHOTOS from Hurriyet Daily News

Two days off from blogging, and . . .

After an unprecedented meeting of the Turkish Armed Forces on Tuesday, all eyes are turned on the state of civil-military relations after the most recent Ergenekon developments. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) released a statement, characterizing the detentions as a "serious situation." Over 40 people were detained on Monday in the most wide-reaching Ergenekon sweep yet, and at least seven have been formally charged in connection to "Operation Sledgehammer," revealed by Taraf last month. According to Hurriyet, "Ergenekon prosecutors have now detained all top commanders from 2003 and 2004 except Hilmi Özkök, the former chief of General Staff" (for an accounting of Monday's detentions, click here.)

President Gul is said to be organizing a meeting between Prime Minister Erdogan, recently returned from Spain, and Chief of General Staff Ilker Basbug. Erdogan has refrained from personally criticizing the unauthorized TSK meeting, but deputy Salih Kapusuz remarked, “Everything that happens and is said today will be brought onto the country’s agenda in the future, too." There are rumors that all top commanders could resign, though as Mehmet Ali Birand concludes, what that means is unclear.

Meanwhile, though Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya has dismissed stories that there is a closure case pending against the AKP, a closure case could well be in the making and would only further de-stabilize the situation. Coming on the heels of last week's judicial showdown, Turkey's political situation is, indisputably, remarkably tense. In Spain, Prime Minister Erdogan promised to submit constitutional amendments pertaining to judicial reform to referendum if a compromise with the CHP and MHP cannot be reached. Meanwhile, opposition parties have called for early elections, claiming such a move will help relieve tensions.

UPDATE I (2/25) -- Following a meeting this morning between President Gul, Prime Minister Erdogan, and Chief of Staff Ilker Basbug, the three leaders declared that recent tensions would be solved within the constitutional order of things. At the moment, that order still allows closure of the AKP should a case be filed, or any other number of scenarios.

Also, the Christian Science Monitor's Scott Peterson takes a look at the recent arrests and Tuesday's meeting, providing a good summary of the context in which all of this is happening.

UPDATE II (2/25) -- Two recent columns from two very different opinion leaders warrant a reading in that both agree that what is essentially happening is a power between two elites -- one old, established, and orthodox; the other, newly risen, eager to challenge the powers that be, and equally rigid. Mehmet Ali Birand writes that "a great mutual psychological war is being fought," drawing on Babug's earlier statement that forces opposed to the military are waging psychological war against it (Taraf, for instance).

Fellow Hurriyet Daily News columnist Mustafa Akyol writes about "polyarchy," which Akyol describes as a "system with more than one power center, and even a crude system of "checks and balances." Not to be confused with Robert Dahl's conception of democracy, this "polyarchy" is far from democratic -- a power struggle between elites with its own set of rules and logic that the public can only speculate on. Akyol's analysis does not go this far, but he does give the example of the "ascending role of the police in relation to the military." While writing that AKP is "nepotistic," "prone to authoritarianism and intolerance," and that "a Turkey totally dominated by the AKP would really not be fun - nor free and democratic," he endorses the new system over the old, declaring that "an ongoing struggle between opposing powers, is better than the previous one, which was a dominance of a single power." Akyol does not give much of a warrant for this, but its honesty is certainly striking.

UPDATE III (2/25) -- The AKP is sending two of its deputies to the parliament's disciplinary board following statements both made implying the Ergenekon case and recent arrests were about afflicting revenge. The referrals are presumably an attempt by the AKP to preempt the statements being used in the potential closure case. Should the disciplinary board expel the two deputies from parliament, the AKP would lose two MPs at a time when it is considering the risky move of bringing constitutional amendments to referendum.

UPDATE IV (2/26) -- Late on Thursday, three of those detained earlier this week were released, including top geneals Ibrahim Firtina and Ozden Ornek, former commanders of the Air Force and Navy respectively, and Ergin Saygun, former commander of the First Army. The releases were made based on their low flight risk, though prosecutors said the investigation will continue, keeping open the possibility of future arrest. Today 11 more were formally arrested and remanded into custody, including two active duty admirals and former General Cetin Dogan, who has made frequent appearances on Turkish televisionin recent weeks de-bunking the Ergenekon investigation. General Engin Alan, former head of the Specaial Forces, also appeared before the court. Meanwhile, in another sweep, 18 mostly active-duty juniors officers were detained. The total number of officers formally arrested and jailed this week was 31 out of a total of 67 detained.

Gareth Jenkins discusses the politicization of the Ergenekon investigation in a piece up on BBC Turkish (in Turkish). For Jenkins' take on the investigation, see "Between Fact and Fantasy: Turkey’s Ergenekon Investigation" (published last fall).

UPDATE V (3/1) -- Two more officers were formally charged on Sunday. From Reuters:
The state-run news agency Anatolian said Colonel Huseyin Ozcoban, commander of the paramilitary gendarmerie force in the city of Konya, and Lieutenant Colonel Yusuf Kelleli were charged late on Sunday in an Istanbul court.

1 comment:

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

On our never-ending crises and being Turkish: