Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Aftermath -- Martial Law Coming Anytme Soon?

Responding to yesterday's attack on a military convoy in Istanbul's Halkali district, MHP leader Devlet Bahceli has called to designate the predominantly Kurdish southeast an emergency rule region (OHAL), a move that would essentially ring martial law to the region. Bahceli's proposal is unlikely to garner much support, though it does speak to the level of animosity and polarization that has emerged in the wake of increased PKK violence.

Bahceli issued the call during his party's parliamentary group meeting yesterday just a few hours after leading his party in boycotting a vote on a long-coming measure to amend the Anti-Terrorism Law so that Kurdish childred aged 15-18 will no longer be tried as adults.

At Monday's security summit, no mention was made to OHAL, and Chief of General Staff Ilker Basbug firmly rejected the possibility of imposing OHAL in a speech he gave Monday -- less than 24 hours before yesterday's bombing. However, with the National Security Council (MGK) set to meet tomorrow to discuss the security situation in the region, top government and military officials are now saying all options are on the table.

Parts of the southeast were first placed under martial law (provided for by the 1982 non-civilian Turkish constitution) in 1987, which did not disappear from the region until 2002. Much of the day-to-day violence during what some have coined the "dirty war" in the southeast occurred in conjunction with security measures taken under the auspices of OHAL, and the isolation of the region from the rest of Turkey under OHAL's unique governerning/security schemes is largely attributed to worsening the region's alienation from the rest of Turkey and contributing to a sense of victimization.

Other than OHAL, which despite Bahceli's hawkish rhetorical utterings is still a far possibility, the MGK will discuss the short and medium-term security solutions proposed in Monday's summit, namely the restructuring of military/security forces (including their greater professionalization) and increased coordination/cooperation with the United States and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). From Hurriyet Daily News:
In line with the results of Monday’s state summit, the system of intelligence gathering and how this information is coordinated among security institutions will also be reviewed at the MGK meeting. Hakan Fidan, the new head of the National Intelligence Organization, or MİT, will brief the council about these efforts.

In the operational dimension, the MGK will review the results of recent cross-border operations into northern Iraq, where the training camps of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, are located. The military plans to carry out more cross-border operations as needed.

The council will also discuss potential measures to stop the further spread of terrorist activities to urban and tourist areas ahead of the beginning of the tourism season.

. . . .

Discussions at Thursday’s MGK meeting will also address the foreign connections of the PKK and will likely focus on Massoud Barzani, the head of the Regional Kurdish Administration in northern Iraq, who some have accused of doing too little to contain the outlawed group. During his landmark visit to Turley in early June, Barzani refrained from acknowledging the PKK as a terrorist organization but pledged his full support to Turkish officials in their fight against terror.

Though Barzani issued a condemnation of Saturday’s deadly attack, some Turkish officials are still far from being satisfied with his level of support.

Turkish officials are also planning to hold more meetings with the United States to review the countries’ current cooperation on intelligence sharing. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s meeting next week with President Barack Obama is expected to focus on the joint fight against terrorism.

In its meeting, the MGK will likely emphasize the need for societal unity in the fight against terror and call for the participation of all political parties, nongovernmental organizations and the media.
More as it happens . . .

In other news, police have detained 27 suspects thought to be involved in yesterday's bombing.

UPDATE I (6/27) -- For some thoughts from security experts and civil society/opinion leaders on imposing OHAL, see this short news feature from Today's Zaman.

No comments: