The coming days
The week ahead
Jul 27th 2008
More political uncertainty in Turkey
•TURKEY'S constitutional court meets on Monday July 28th for final hearings in a case involving the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The party is accused of anti-secularism and the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, may be barred from office. The 11-member court could possibly reach a verdict within days. Mr Erdogan, anticipating a negative ruling, is rumoured to be drawing up contingency plans for an early election to let him put his case to the Turkish public. His party won 47% support in a general election last year.
July 27 2008
Turkish daily summarizes military, intelligence response to Ergenekon probe
Istanbul Public Prosecutor Zekeriya Oz sent an official letter concerning the Ergenekon investigation to the General Staff, the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and to the Police General Directorate (EGM). The opinions of these three institutions are included in the indictment as summarized:
General Staff: In the response by the Legal Affairs Office it stated, "There is no such organization within the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) or within the General Staff." It was also stated that the "Ergenekon Structure" document dated 29 October 1999 and the document called "Antidote" dated 1 May 2000, which were asked about by the prosecutor, had nothing to do with the TSK. It was also noted that the contents of the written documents called Special Forces Message Form and Land Forces Message Form had nothing to do with the TSK, that the "Deep Ergenekon" document taken from Sevgi Erenerol, some documents by Cakir Pasa regarding Alevi Sympathy, Alevism and Armenians that were found on Tuncay Guney plus the writings and reports concerning MIT, Hezbollah and Susurluk did not belong to the TSK.
The documents printed to look as if they belonged to the TSK were regarded as a deliberate plan to undermine the TSK. It was said that these documents were written using computer techniques copying the formats used by the TSK. It was also emphasized that while these kinds
of incidents were being encountered more and more frequently, people posing as commissioned officers in judicial inquiries were in fact trying to further their self interests with various bodies and commercial organization using illegal means by pretending to be associated with the TSK. It was stated that just because these people used to wear the uniform did not necessarily mean they still had ties to the TSK and that these kinds of activities would be treated as outrageous by both the general public and the TSK.
MIT Under Secretary's Office: In its reply to the prosecutor it stated that the makeup of Ergenekon and the organizational documents taken from the suspects had nothing to do with MIT. In MIT's opinion about the documents found in subsequent searches it was noted that the
information contained in anonymous letters to sent to the MIT Under Secretary in 2002 and the attached CDs regarding projects called "Ergenekon and Lobby" together with other information of an accusatory nature were all sent to the Prime Minister and the General Staff HQ in a prepared booklet in 2003. The opinion forwarded by MIT stated that on the strength of current information it was not possible to say anything for certain but that the efforts being made under the name "Ergenekon" were efforts by a group with its sights on the regime and the state to get organized to further its own interests. It continued:
"This accusatory information all came from various separate channels that largely corroborate one another and this adds significance to the affair beyond simple gossip pointing to a directed organized activity. The current information is being treated as "a guiding cadre of military origin aiming to keep a clandestine watch on the civilian administration and create a new form of governance under a newstructure through the use of certain NGOs, political parties and media
EGM: The EGM made the longest evaluation of the questions asked by the prosecution. In the four-page report prepared by the Counterterrorism Office it stated that Ergenekon could be treated as a terrorist organization and said: "The opinion is that the organization known as
Ergenekon possesses a structure as detailed in articles 1 and 7 of Counterterrorism Law Number 3713. The report has a subheading "Coercion and Violence" that draws attention to the possession of weapons and explosives, the preparations for acts of terrorism and information linking the grenades. It was emphasized that the data regarding the use of violence obtained as a result of the entire investigation and the evidence found plus the fact that violence actually took place all points to "the organization being a terrorist organization." The EGM report states: "Up until the Ergenekon investigation began there is no information concerning any prior inves- tigation or follow up for any terrorist organization called 'Ergenkon' in any EGM records, therefore it may be understood that the organization in question is a newly emerged organization. The following is being considered: plans were made to assassinate some people, large sums of money were offered to people to carry out these assassinations, the carrying out of these acts would generate much outrage in the country and tarnish Turkey's international image." It also points out that Ergenekon was an organized structure with a political goal of bending the state authority to its own will.
"Deep State Image"
The three prosecutors running the investigation noted in their conclusions in the light of the information from the three institutions that Ergenekon had no connection to any state institution, that it had been set up in secret, that it gave itself a "deep state image," and that it had tried to run the state administration illegally using its own methods by infiltrating all the institutions of the state and using the for its own purposes. Contrary to the definition of deep state, the evidence seized during the course of the investigation shows that the Ergenekon organization was not pursuing the state's interests but its own ideological views and that it aimed to lean on the state using non-democratic means and intimidation terrorism methods.
Zaman Online, Turkey
July 28 2008
Obama and Ankara
Ã-MER TAÅ?PINAR firstname.lastname@example.org Columnists
Last week, as I was watching Barack Obama on TV, giving his Berlin speech in front of 200,000 people, a disturbing question came to mind. What would happen if Obama gave a speech in Turkey? Would the crowds be as large and enthusiastic? One side of me says, "Yes, we can!" I can't help but think that the Turkish people must be really excited about the prospect of radical change in the United States. After all, the Bush presidency will not be remembered with nostalgia among Turks. There is plenty of evidence illustrating this. For starters, according to global opinion polls, Turkey is consistently the number-one country in terms of dislike for the Bush administration's policies. Logically, in a country like Turkey, there must be a lot of sympathy for a new American president who represents by the sheer facts of his name, race, ideas and overall demeanor a mind-blowing contrast to everything that George W. Bush has come to symbolize. Add to this the fact that Turkey itself is a country where the power struggle is often defined as one between the "white elite" and the "black masses" of Anatolia. Wouldn't black Turks embrace their American brother? Think twice before getting carried away. Yes, under normal circumstances such parallels between Turkey and America would strike a chord and yes, under normal circumstances Obama would be the favorite of the Turkish people, mainly because he would be seen as the underdog defying the American system.
Yet one needs to emphasize the term "under normal circumstances." An Obama visit to Turkey may not draw hundreds of thousands of cheering crowds to the street. The reason is simple and painful. Whenever Obama's presidency is discussed in Turkey, there is a big Turkish elephant in the room: the Armenian "genocide" issue. Obama's position is well known: He is committed to the Armenian cause and has promised the Armenian- American community that he will support recognition of the "genocide." Now that's a show-stopper for Turkey. The Turkish press picked up the story from day one and began to ring alarm bells. It did not take very long for Obama's name to become synonymous with the Armenian lobby in the eyes of Turks. Similarly, the Turkish-American community in the United States has become very uncom- fortable with the prospect of an Obama presidency. A senior Democratic member from the US Congress who happens to be a major Obama supporter told me last week that his staffers are already getting an earful from the Turkish community in his district. No wonder most Turkish-American organizations lined up to support Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries.
It is also no wonder that both the government in Ankara and the Turkish state apparatus (Note for dummies: government and state can mean different things in Turkish politics, especially these days¦) appear to be on the same page about Obama: They prefer his opponent Republican candidate Senator John McCain. There is no major surprise here. The Turkish establishment has always had a deeply rooted love affair with Republicans. The roots of this martial romance -- which appears to have survived the Bush years -- go back to the good old days of the Cold War era, when there was no daylight between the Turkish military and the Pentagon. Iraq was of course a major bump in the road. But there are still ongoing financial reasons for this marriage of convenience to continue. For some mysterious reason (!)Turkey's best friends in Washington are always the defense companies; and the best friends of the defense companies are the Republicans. You get the picture, right? (Note for dummies No. 2: Republicans never cut America's defense budget.) Anyways, I digress. The crux of the matter for Turkey is the following: Obama is a Democrat who supports the Armenian cause whereas McCain is a Republican who values Turkey's strategic importance much more than the votes of Armenian-Americans. This is how Ankara perceives the situation.
As a result, Turkey is once again out of tune with the rest of the world. The whole world is going nuts about Obama while Ankara is stuck in history. Is there a way to remind Turkey that there are more important things in Turkish-American relations than the Armenian issue? This may be an uphill battle. But one way to do so is to focus
on Obama's popularity in Europe. Imagine both McCain and Obama lobbying on Turkey's behalf with EU leaders. To whom do you think Europeans would prefer to listen? Take a second look at the crowd listening to Obama in Berlin.