By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 7, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
On June 18, 2014, the Turkish Constitutional Court ordered a retrial in the infamous Balyoz, or “Sledgehammer”, case in which 237 serving and retired military personnel were convicted of plotting to stage a coup to overthrow the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The retrial appears likely to result in the acquittal of the accused. However, the timing of the Constitutional Court’s decision has done little to allay concerns about the politicization of the Turkish judicial system.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 18 of the Turkey Analyst)
The sentences in the Sledgehammer trial demonstrate the subjugation of the military to civilian, democratic, legal authority. But at the same time, it is not in the interest of the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) that the officer corps is further demoralized. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan no longer has an interest in wielding a sledgehammer against the military. The outcome of the trial of the generals must be viewed against the backdrop of the new power struggle that rages in Turkey, between the AKP and the movement of Fethullah Gülen.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 13 of the Turkey Analyst)
On June 14, 2012, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly invited Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the powerful Gülen Movement, to return to Turkey from self-imposed exile in the United States. On June 16, 2012, in a videoed interview, Gülen declined the invitation, breaking down in tears as he expressed his fears that his return could be exploited to destabilize the country and damage his movement’s achievements. In recent months, Erdoğan and members of the Gülen Movement have been engaged in a bitter power struggle. As a result, Erdoğan’s invitation to Gülen was interpreted by some commentators as a reconciliatory peace offering. However, it would probably be more accurate to interpret it as a challenge to Gülen, an assertion of authority in the guise of a magnanimous gesture.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 11 of the Turkey Analyst)
On May 12, 2012, Istanbul rivals Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray played out a goalless draw in the final match of the Turkish 2011-2102 soccer season, handing the national championship to Galatasaray. After the match, Fenerbahçe fans took to streets and to social networking media such as Twitter to protest that they had been robbed. Much of their ire was directed at the Gülen Movement, the followers of the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who has been living in exile in Pennsylvania in the U.S. since 1999. It was the Gülen Movement, they claimed, that was behind a massive investigation into match-fixing first launched in July 2011 that had been primarily directed primarily at Fenerbahçe, severely disrupting its on-field and off-field activities and resulting in club chair, Aziz Yıldırım, spending the entire season behind bars.
By M. Kemal Kaya and Svante E. Cornell (vol. 5, no. 5 of the Turkey Analyst)
When a special prosecutor attempted to bring in five high intelligence officers (including the head of Turkish intelligence) for questioning, he also cracked the veneer of the AKP’s supposedly consolidated hold on power in the country. Indeed, developments in Turkey since Sadrettin Sarıkaya issued his subpoenas have shown with all clarity a deep split in the ranks of the informal coalition on which the AKP bases its power. That split had thus far been growing but never openly manifested; now, a power struggle between the AKP and the Gülen movement is unraveling. It is unlikely to be easily bridged.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.