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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

What the Columnists Say

Published in Roundup of Columnists
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The shifting alliances in the turbulent Turkish politics are a major topic among the columnists. Gülenist commentators are concerned that the government is inviting back the military to politics, and argue that the spirit of the post-modern coup in 1997 was resuscitated at the recent meeting of the National Security Council, when the Gülen movement was designated as a major national security threat. Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet argues that the decision indeed reflects the common worry of the government and of the General Staff that Gülenist officers may stage a coup. Another concern that is frequently expressed is that the opposition, by building its case against the government on what is being serviced by the Gülenists, is becoming dangerously indebted to them. Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak defends that what constitutes a major threat to democracy in Turkey in the long run is the takeover of the state of the Gülen movement.

 

 GÜLERCE: THE GOVERNMENT IS INIVITING THE MILITARY BACK

Hüseyin Gülerce in Zaman writes that terrible things are happening, with Turkey headed toward chaos. The spirit of the post-modern February 28 coup in 1997 has returned with the decisions that were taken at the latest meeting of the National Security Council. At the suggestion of the civilian members of the council, a whole community, the so called “parallel establishment”, was singled out as a threat. The government is reviving the role that the armed forces had during the era of tutelage; this is, to put is simply, nothing but outrageous. Because what the government is doing is to invite the military back. Has the government calculated what’s in store if the military, encouraged by foreign developments and global schemes once again leaves its caserns?

BURSALI: THE MILITARY AND ERDOGAN ARE UNITED AGAINST THE DANGER THAT IS POSED BY “CEMAAT”

Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet calls attention to the deeper meaning of the joint decision against the Gülen “cemaat” that was taken by the government and the military at the latest meeting of the National Security Council. That decision reflects a common worry concerning the entrenchment of the “cemaat” within the military. That is one of the most threatening concerns for both Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the military. Erdoğan has realized that he can conduct normal business with the military. However, the “cemaat” is also organized within the military; he realizes that if he does not uproot this implantation, he has no clue of the dimensions of the danger that awaits him. The organization of the “cemaat” within the military can ultimately evolve to a coup against Erdoğan or against the governments that are going to succeed him. Erdoğan now feels that he has the army on his side. If he is lucky and he succeeds in remaining on his feet, the case of the pending judicial operation against the “cemaat” is going to be built around the fact that the “cemaat” has organized itself as a criminal gang within the state. The best proof of such a criminal activity is the way the police-prosecutors-courts colluded to imprison hundreds of innocents, who are now being released.  Of course, there is a serious question mark on whether the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has any strength left to see this through; it is questionable if it will be able remain in power at all.

MAHÇUPYAN: THE TAPES ARE NOT GOING TO HARM ERDOĞAN

Etyen Mahçupyan in Zaman argues that the publication of the recordings of Erdoğan’s telephone conversations is not going to harm the prime minister. It imports not to overlook that this tape recording lacks in legality, legitimacy and that hence the political consequences are bound to be limited. First of all, the tape recording is not technically reliable; anyone could have tampered with it. Secondly, the wiretapping is not legal; it seems improbable that it can be used as evidence in any judicial case. Thirdly, there is the question of legitimacy; we are talking about a recording that was kept for two months, and was prepared to be politically used at the appropriate moment. Who is going to be convinced that a recording that was kept waiting for two months was not tampered with? Fourthly, this tape is not of a sort that will produce the kind of political reaction that is hoped for. It’s hardly a secret that there is an ongoing fundraising that is organized by the prime minister and that certain businessmen are encouraged to contribute to the effort. What would have been politically damaging is if it were disclosed that these sums had been added to the personal fortune of the prime minister.

DÜNDAR: WE NEED TO REACT AGAINST BOTH THE CRIMES OF THE GOVERNMENT AND OF THE CEMAAT

Can Dündar in Cumhuriyet makes the observation that media is handling the matter of the recordings of the prime minister’s conversations in three different ways: Some of us publish these recordings with great appetite. Some of us pretend not to see them. Some of us observe it with certain unease. Illegal wiretapping has been used as evidence in several show trials, leading to the convictions of innocents; with this very recent past in mind, many of our colleagues are wary of peddling recording that were obtained with the very same methods against which we once objected; they rightly remark that this would be double standards. My solution is to expose both crimes: both the crimes of the state that robs us and the crimes of the “parallel” state that wiretaps us. Tomorrow, these tapes are perhaps going to be used as blackmail in new power negotiations. In order not to fall into that trap, we need to fight against both crimes. A rubbish heap cannot be the foundation of a decent, clean society.

BAYRAMOĞLU: THE WAY THE TAPE RECORDINGS OF ERDOGAN WERE OBTAINED POINTS TO A MUCH BIGGER PROBLEM FOR DEMOCRACY

Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak warns that before taking the veracity of the alleged conversation of the prime minister for granted, some thought should be given to what is uncontested: the systematic, illegal wiretapping.  In fact, this can become a problem for democracy. The stance of those who make their case against the government based on what is being serviced by the “cemaat” is morally problematic. There can be no doubt that Tayyip Erdoğan and the AK Party are one day going to be succeeded by others. But if overlooked, the tissue of the “cemaat” within the judiciary and the state is going to present itself as a long-term, intractable democratic problem for this country. Whether or not the recordings and allegations that have been put forward against the government are factual or not, it is telling that these have been disclosed not through the normal functioning of the system, but as a result of the “cemaat’s” usurpation of power and breach of the law.

ÇAKIR: CHP RISKS BECOMING INDEBTED TO THE GÜLENISTS

Rusen Çakır in Vatan writes that in theory you’d expect that the fierce fight between two forces (AKP and “cemaat”) will help cleanse the country by exposing their respective faults. However, both sides are doing this not in the service of the country, but to harm each other. No third force that would benefit from their mutual self-destruction has emerged, nor does it seem likely that it will emerge. At first, CHP comes to mind, but the main opposition party has to a large extent based its election campaign on the blows that the “cemaat” has delivered at especially Prime Minister Erdoğan. If this campaign is successful, we can predict that the CHP is going to be quite indebted to “cemaat”, and that a new sort of tutelary relationship is going to replace the defunct “cemaat”-AKP alliance.

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