Friday, January 16, 2009

Turkey on tenterhooks

'Normally' I do set links - yes, yes, it's time to overcome my lazyness and perhaps even for a revival of my 'Wordy Wednesdays :) - however this synopsis of what keeps great parts of the Turkish society on tenterhooks is so excellent that I asked Erkan - after the private, here the official congratulation, Dr. Saka :) - for his permission to pinch it.At the bottom you'll find - in chronological order - several links to the best source one can find when being interested (not only!!) in what's going on in Turkey.
End of the eulogy. :) Judge yourself.

Forensic officers search for weapons in a wooded area in central Ankara January 9, 2009. More than 40 people, including three retired generals, nine military officers, a state prosecutor and a former chairman of the higher education board, were detained for their suspected links to a right-wing group. The military, which has unseated four governments in the past 50 years and views itself as the guarantor of Turkey's secular order, denies any link to the group, known as Ergenekon. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY)

Here are some ideas Erkan briefly notes
about the Ergenekon case:

1. I am personally not upset that coup plotters and their sympathizers are at least 'harassed' during the never ending Ergenekon case. All arrested, detained, investigated personalities are part of dark relations in Turkey's recent past. One is happy to see that there is a sort of "divine justice" in life.

2. I am suprised that the Case continues even after the end of closure case against AKP. There is a widespread belief that there is an understanding between the military bureaucracy and government now. PM Erdoğan's pro-State statements and cadre changes in AKP leadership seemed to be evidence for this belief. The case seemed to have lost AKP's political support.

3. Ergenekon is a very broad, powerful and well-supported network. Its illegality is reversed or justified by a particular civil mode of political culture. There are many civilians who support coups in order to protect the regime. This is still a strong pattern of political thinking in Turkey. One should not forget that in 1960 an elected PM was hanged! In order to protect Kemalism, many civilians would not mind a military coup and even execution of government members. In such a political climate, Ergenekon gang members could easily operate, settle and be protected. Many gang members become inseperable from the rest of smypathisers.

4. Turkish legal system is conservative, backward and has loopholes. In such a political and legal context, it is very hard for prosecutors to operate against Ergenekon. No need to say, system is totally politicized.

5. In order to operate, political and communal support is needed. I do not mind that prosecutors have some "backing".

6. In order to operate, there might be some violations of "procedures", that are constantly highlighted by secularist circles. "procedures" that are never settled, that are constantly manipulated. Same procedures that were not criticised when PM Erdoğan was imprisoned before, when Beşir Atalay, current minister of interior affairs, was thrown out of his university years ago, when pro-Islamic columnists were detained in the same like some columnists are now detained....

7. Despite my support in general, I have to admit that the Case process sometimes becomes too problematic to support. the Indictment itself is an interesting text but messy, long and evidentially weak.

8. I feel better with the latest wave of arrests after which hidden weaponry is found. Technical analysis finally secured the fact that some newly found grenades are now part of a group of grenades that were found initially in Ümraniye, İstanbul that started the whole process.

9. I understand that some of the arrests are just meant to harass pro-coup personalities who does not have any organic membership with the gang. But evidential connections have to be secured. Only after hard evidence, this very difficult process of Ergenekon case can continue and maintain public support.

10. But how can there be more evidence? That's a hard task. Turkish intelligence seems to be divided. Only some can provide direct help. Army intelligence act mostly after the fact. Evidences can easily be hidden or destroyed under the cloud of sympathy in several levels of bureaucracy. Police forces can be helpful but according to media reports, which are themselves quite suspicious, evidence is not collected properly (such as data found in computers are not registered according to proper procedures) and despite good intentions, evidence is corrupted most of the time.

11. In case of lack of hard evidence, evidentiality of the case becomes inevitably political. If there was a strong mainstream media support, instantiation of strong evidentiality could be more easily achieved. This also lacks.

12. If political support is secured limitedly through some negotiations, then there will only be some victims, and Ergenekon case will be closed without much sensation at a particular moment.

13. If political support is secured strongly, then there will be sensational conclusions. If AKP secures another big victory in March elections, this might lead to a strong political support for the case.

14. If Ergenekon gang members decided to retire after the AKP rule, their old misdeeds would be forgotten and they would live happily after. But their belief that they own the State led them to this particular predicament...

15. This is a good lesson for some: if you politicise the law, this is what you will get. This is in turn a lesson for those who rule now: If you maintain this level of politicization, you might again become the victim of the process. Justice is needed for all, although revenge tastes good for the moment...

On the same topic:

Here come the pain - Ergenekon gang receives a serious blow in the 10th wave of arrests

'Turkish judges' - so anxious ...

Why does military intelligence fail to see what the police can see?

Did the last Ergenekon operation just save us from a military coup?


  1. This is a very detailed and well analyzed report. Since I live outside of Turkey, it is hard for me to follow all the details. But the original owner of this post made a very cleaver argument...

    Turkish justice system is so corrupt that it is hard for me to trust them...
    And why are they not going after Kenan Evren, who in my eyes is the Augusto Pinochet of Turkey? He is the biggest coup plotter!

  2. Dear Sean, we posted (I put it on 6.00am EET) both Erkan his post...we have lately often the same things in mind..))!
    I told you to come over on our Christmas party, my dear friend Erkan was there, just back from of the most integer persons I met the last years. And fun, especially when we are drinking whiskey somewhere in the centre of Istanbul...))
    Erkan gave also, for Dutch police enforcement, a lecture at the Dutch general Consulate in Istanbul.
    Time to visit Istanbul, Sean..))

  3. Like Nevin, I do not know much about Ergenekon. But from reading this post, it seems living a life of a politician in Turkey, is like living on a razor's edge.

  4. Nevin,
    perhaps the very sentence you are quoting contains the answer to your question according Mr. Evren.
    However, I might be wrong. Thus, why not ask Erkan (on his blog). He might not be able to give you the answer, but at least an idea.

    coincidence, indeed. :)
    As for your invitation: I'd have loved to come.
    Who knows? One day ...
    And if it where for a fine drop of Whisk(e)y. :)))

    by far not only the life of politicians.