By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 5 of the Turkey Analyst)
On February 7, 2012, Sadrettin Sarıkaya, a public prosecutor with “special authority”, attempted to question several high-ranking serving and retired officials of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), including intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, on suspicion of aiding and abetting the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The resultant furor led not only to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) rushing through legislative amendments to protect the country’s intelligence officers from judicial investigation but also to calls for the entire system of “specially authorized” prosecutors and courts to be overhauled. However, there is considerable evidence to suggest that the manner in which “specially authorized” prosecutors and courts operate are merely symptoms of much deeper flaws in the Turkish judicial system as a whole.
By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 3 of the Turkey Analyst)
Most international attention has focused on the more than 100 journalists who are now in jail in Turkey as a result of what they have written or said. But more pernicious – and ultimately much more corrosive to freedom of expression – is the widespread self-censorship and the climate of fear, which extends well beyond the media into Turkish society at large. Yet it would be a mistake to hold the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan solely to blame. The underlying problem goes much deeper and is considerably older than the AKP government. Indeed, it could be argued that the main responsibility for the deteriorating state of freedom of expression in the country lies with the Turkish media itself.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 23 of the Turkey Analyst)
Internal and external dynamics no longer compel Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to transcend his democratic limits. It was the confluence of a particular set of external and internal dynamics that worked to ensure the Turkish Islamists’ conversion to democracy. These dynamics are no longer at work. Instead, as Turkey’s strategic value – and Erdoğan’s international fame – has soared in the wake of the Arab revolutions, traditional Turkish state authoritarianism is being offered a new lease on life.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 7 of the Turkey Analyst)
Agreeing upon the rules for how they are going to live together, with mutual respect for differences, is the fundamental challenge that faces the citizens of Turkey. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has pledged that the authoritarian constitution will be replaced with a new, “civilian” constitution following the general election in June. Yet a truly “civilian” constitution must be a societal covenant, of which Turkey has had no prior experience. The question is if the people of Turkey will be able to surprise each other with restraint and generosity.
By Kerem Öktem (vol. 4, no. 5 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey remains an “Angry nation”, tormented by the many ghosts of its history, some of which still lurk in the shadows. Its political system is characterized by deep polarization, and it is by no means certain that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will go on to dismantle the edifice of state tutelage bequeathed by the “guardians” who have now been put on the defensive as never before in the history of the republic. Yet even if the country’s immediate prospects remain ambiguous, the people of Turkey have nonetheless used the ballot box several times to successfully defy authoritarianism and military diktats. That deserves to serve as an inspiration for others in the Middle East.
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.