Thursday, February 9, 2012

Crisis in the State

PHOTO from Radikal

All hell began to break out within Turkey's corridors for power on Tuesday night when it was leaked to the media that the country's top intelligence officials were being summoned by a prosecutor to answer for their possible role in PKK terrorist activities.

The three officials, MIT director Hakan Fidan, his predecessor Emre Taner, and MIT undersecretary Afet Gunes, are being called to account for what some media reports claim is their possible role in helping transmitting instructions to carry out PKK terror attacks or standing by while such transmissions took place. One accusation is that the MIT, under Taner's leadership and then Fidan's, wielded control of the KCK, the PKK's so-called urban wing. As far-fetched as these accounts are (and most everyone is still struggling to make sense of them), their target could well be Prime Minister Erdogan.

In September, audio tapes were released detailing negotiations between MIT officials and PKK leaders who have since been confirmed to have been conducting peace talks in Oslo. At the time, Erdogan vowed to stand by Fidan, who is a close confidant and on whom the prime minister has heavily relied to broker a solution to the Kurdish conflict.  Taner, Fidan's predecessor, was the architect of the talks, which by all knowledge Erdogan approved and encouraged up until last June's elections when negotiations collapsed.

MIT, for its part, is insisting that the intelligence officials cannot be questioned without the approval of the prime minister according to MIT law. The specially-authorized prosecutor behind the investigation, Sadrettin Sarikaya, is the same prosecutor responsible for the KCK operations that have landed over 3,500 in individuals in detention.

Ordinarily, prosecutors would have to attain administrative permission to question intelligence officials, but Hurriyet reports this is not the case for specially-authorized prosecutors conducting terror probes. Interestingly, Istanbul chief prosecutor Fikret Secen denied the reports that Fidan, Taner, and Gunes were being called for questioning on Tuesday night, evidence that perhaps Secen did not know of Sarikaya's intention. Government officials have seemed equally surprised.

To add another twist, two high-ranking official's in Istanbul's Directorate for Security have been re-assigned. Yurt Atayun, head of the department for anti-terrorism, and Erol Demirhan, head of the department for intelligence, have both been removed from their posts. The two officials have been key to the KCK operations, and their removal is most likely linked to the investigation into MIT.

So far Erdogan has stood by Fidan, and just what the coming days will hold as to just what the government will do, what forces are behind the investigation into MIT, and what their motives are remains largely anyone's guess.

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