Wednesday, 18 December 2013

What the Columnists Say

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As the power struggle between the AKP and the Hizmet movement led by Fethullah Gülen intensifies, pro-government commentators don’t mince their words with regard to the “cemaat”, accusing its members of having constituted a “junta” within the police and the judiciary that is allegedly trying to overthrow and jail Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Meanwhile, commentators who do not belong to any of the belligerent sides express incredulity and near-horror at the turn of events. Mehmet Altan, a liberal intellectual, asks, “Is this really a state?” and concludes that Turkey is a “wild jungle” where no one, including those in power who sustain the chaos, enjoys any protection whatsoever of the law.

ALTAN: WHAT IS MOST SCARY – THE GOVERNMENT OR THE CEMAAT? NO, IT IS TURKEY ITSELF

In the wake of recent events, the first question that springs to our minds is “is this really a state?”, writes Mehmet Altan on the t24 news site. Could the government be doing the things it is doing in a proper state, and would the cemaat be allowed to do the things that it is being accused of doing? What the government has done is on record, and has been admitted by the officials –  setting up files on its own people, after duly deciding it in the National Security Council, then charging the newspaper and the journalists that disclose this as “traitors”, wire-tapping journalists in a coordinated operation of intelligence agents and the judiciary; if the cemaat has done what it is being accused of – forming a “gang” within the state, arresting and sentencing military officers, journalists, in short just about anyone who happen to displease it, and which has now allegedly attempted to stage a palace coup after morphing into a “junta” – then its members are guilty of crimes; but the government and the prime minister who says “what did they ask that we did not give them” that has allowed them to do all this are also complicit in the crimes. All these proves and allegations demonstrate that we are society without a real state and without clear demarcations of law, which means that no one, including those who have created and sustained this chaos enjoys any protection; we apparently live in a wild jungle. What is most scary – the cemaat or the government? It is Turkey itself that is scary.

 

KÜÇÜK: A JUNTA WITHIN THE POLICE AND THE JUDICIARY IS TRYING TO OVERTHROW AND JAIL ERDOGAN

There is a fight raging in Turkey now, notes Cem Küçük in Yeni Şafak. The fight is being fought between the legitimate, civilian government that has come to power democratically and a junta that wants to overthrow it by a postmodern coup. The center of this junta is located within the police and the judiciary. Just as there used to be juntas within the military, there is now juntas in the police and the judiciary. Democratic political instititions used to have to deal with putschist military officers and their supporters in the media and the judiciary. Now we have got putschist police officers, prosecutors, judges, and the Neo-Ergenekon media that publishes lies and hit-articles on the orders of this junta...

 

GÜRSEL: WHAT SHOULD WE SUPPORT IN THE AKP-CEMAAT WAR?

Kadri Gürsel in Milliyet writes that this is an ugly and bloody divorce procedure. The National Intelligence Agency (MİT) and the National Security Council (MGK) has filed a criminal complaint against the daily Taraf (where MGK documents about targeting the cemaat have been published). The reporter Mehmet Baransu is being investigated on espionage charges. These investigations can result in a dramatic outcome where individual freedoms and the freedom of the press are blatantly violated. When the AKP and the cemaat were engaged in a power struggle against the military in 2008-2011, the duty of the democrats was to refrain from supporting one of the belligerents in the name of certain political calculations. The duty is the same in today’s AKP-Cemaat fight. The so called liberals helped bring about a civilian oppressive regime when they got carried away by the prospect of settling their accounts with the military by the intermediary of the AKP and the Cemaat… Those who are now looking forward to settle accounts with the Cemaat by the agency of the AKP should similarly see that they are going to reinforce the authoritarian character of the regime.

 

CALIŞLAR: WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE AIM OF THE CEMAAT?

Oral Calışlar in Radikal notes that he has many acquaintances and friends among the members of the “Hizmet Movement”, and reminds that he was one of the first journalists to conduct an interview with Fethullah Gülen. He asks how the “cemaat” that has assembled a formidable power in the police, the judiciary, the media and in the economic sector, which has its own, particular understanding of ethics, jargon and that constitutes a “sub-culture”, is going to deploy this power. In what direction may its methods and intensity of intervening in politics change? It is obvious that the “cemaat” is an “actor” on the political scene. However, it is very difficult to pin down the political objectives of the cemaat. The Foundation of Journalists and Writers (which officially speaks in the name of the cemaat) displays a political stance centered on values such as democracy, human rights and pluralism. It is true that they organize conferences on these topics. But is also true that during the KCK arrests (when several thousand Kurdish activists and politicians were arrested) intellectuals and writers that defended the rights of the Kurds were targeted.  The police officials and prosecutors who wanted to stage “operations” against the Oslo peace process (between the AKP government and the PKK) were afforded significant support by some of the pundits of the cemaat.

 

BAYRAMOĞLU: HOW IS CEMAAT TO BE ACCOMMODATED WITHIN THE STATE?

Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak writes that the problem at the heart of the struggle between the AK Party and the “cemaat” is the lack of transparency of the latter. The “cemaat” is not criticized because it a religious network. On the contrary, what makes it a problem is that it pursues its own, separate strategies within the state, that it has used the authority that was “bequeathed” to its members within the police and the judiciary to further these autonomous strategies. This means that alongside the power struggle and the violations of the rule of law, there is another, and perhaps principal, question that needs to be addressed, and that is the ethics and political framework of the relation between “cemaat”-religious structures and public functions. I don’t think that Western examples will provide answers and solutions to this new problem.

 

BABAHAN: FOR THE TURKISH STATE, THE “BLACKS” OF THE COUNTRY ARE STILL THE KURDS, THE LEFTISTS AND THE ALEVIS

Ergun Babahan on the t24 news site writes that the rule of law is still elusive in Turkey. During the whole republican history we have had a politicized judiciary that treated Kurds and dissenters as the enemies of the state. You can tell who the “blacks” in a country are by the rulings of the judiciary. The last picture shows us that nothing has changed with the rule of the AK Party, and that Kurds, leftists, Alevis and Christian minorities are still the “blacks” in the eyes of the state. A clear indication that the state has not reversed its threat perception is that in all cases where the European Court of Human Rights has found Turkey guilty of violations of human rights the parties are invariably Kurds, leftists and Alevis. The recent decision of the courts in Diyarbakır not to release the imprisoned deputies of the (pro-Kurdish) BDP, in spite of the recent ruling of the Constitutional Court (that led to the release of the imprisoned CHP deputy Mustafa Balbay), is but the latest expression of this stance. The judiciary has done everything in its power to cover up the Hrant Dink murder. It has not been impartial in the cases brought against those who were responsible for killing and injuring the youth in the Gezi protests, siding with the state. As we keep holding on to the view that the judiciary is part of the state and the arm of the political power we do indeed resemble the Shanghai five; and it is evident that that is where we truly belong…

Read 3707 times Last modified on Thursday, 19 December 2013

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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.

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