By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 7, no. 23 of the Turkey Analyst)
On December 14, 2014, the Turkish police staged early morning raids in 13 provinces across the country following the issuing of arrest warrants for 31 alleged members of the Gülen Movement on terrorism charges. Those detained included six journalists, prompting claims in the national and international media that the arrests were another example of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s increasing suppression of freedom of expression. In fact, the narratives of the AKP and the Gülen Movement about the arrests are both attempts to coat a power struggle with the gloss of a commitment to principle.
The detentions of Gülenist media personalities have led to a discussion whether or not they deserve support in the name of the freedom of expression, against the background of the joint Gülenist-AKP assaults against the opposition and media in the past. Ekrem Dumanlı, the editor in chief of the Gülenist daily Zaman, who was one of those who was detained, defends past editorial policy, writing that “We honestly appropriated the Ergenekon investigation and lent whatever earnest support to it that we could,” because, he claims, there were many known examples of journalists collaborating with coup makers. Dumanlı concedes that some things that were published may have been “over the mark,” but he asks critical colleagues to support him nonetheless and not “make the same mistake against us.” Güray Öz in Cumhuriyet writes that “no journalist can be deprived of support because of what he has done in the past,” but that the assault against it today does not absolve Gülenist media from its responsibilities for what it has committed in the past.
By Halil Karaveli (vol. 7, no. 21 of the Turkey Analyst)
The Turkish generals are no longer afraid to speak out and they exert influence over government policies. Erdoğan invited the military back into the power equation when, faced with the Gülenist challenge to his power, and in need of a new ally, he gave the signal to open the prison doors for the convicted officers. But more than anything else, it is the persistence of an authoritarian mindset that sets the stage for the recurrent assertion of the power of the military in Turkey.
By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 7, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)
On October 12, 2014, Turkey’s judges and prosecutors will choose ten members of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) in an election which is likely to have far-reaching repercussions both for the government’s campaign against followers of the exiled Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen and the broader issue of political control over the judiciary.
The question that continues to preoccupy many commentators in the Turkish press is the direction that President Erdoğan is taking Turkey. Baskın Oran, a leading political scientist and pundit, drew a historical parallel to the epochs of Atatürk and the sultan Abdülhamid II, noting that Erdoğan is copying Atatürk in his methods, while copying Abdülhamid II ideologically. Meanwhile, the statement that General Necdet Özel, the Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish military, made during the official state reception on August 30 that the military is held in the dark about the peace negotiations between the government and the Kurdish movement and that the military is going to react if its “red lines” are crossed, was welcomed in a comment in the daily Zaman. It was noted that the words of the military deserves to be listened to and that a solution that lacks the support of the armed forces does not stand any chance of success.
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.