musings on travel, international living, development aid, politics, turkey (the country more than the meat) and anything else that comes to mind...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Turkey's Leaders are Getting More Ridiculous by the Hour

I'm going to limit my ranting on this post for the benefit of all humanity. If you're interested in my views on what Turkish politics is turning into, see a previous rant.

Gareth Jenkins recently posted a well-researched academic-style article on the ridiculousness that is the current slew of bogus accusations being thrown at the Turkish military and some prominent civilians. He summarizes his article as follows:
Since it was launched in June 2007, the Ergenekon investigation has become the largest and most controversial case in recent Turkish history, resulting in over 300 people being charged with a membership of what is described as a clandestine terrorist organization seeking to destabilize the country’s Islamist government. In the parallel Sledgehammer investigation, 195 members of the fiercely secularist Turkish military stand accused of plotting a coup in 2003. Yet not only is the evidence in both cases deeply flawed, there are also increasing indications that much of it has been fabricated.
The full article can be found here: http://www.gloria-center.org/meria/2011/06/ergenekon-sledgehammer-and-the-politics-of-turkish-justice-conspiracies-and-coincidences/. I highly recommend it.

Don't get me wrong, the Turkish military hasn't always played by the rules. Their utter devotion to Ataturk (i.e. Kemalism) has included some instances where they are advancing their own ideas under the cloak of Kemalism - not unlike the technique used by fanatics who distort largely peaceful religious texts to justify holy war.

In fact, when I heard initially that they were accused of planning a coup against the Islamic government some years ago, I wasn't terribly surprised. I'm sure there were discussions about what to do if Erdogan and his cronies continued to derail nearly 100 years of progress. I would expect nothing less of the military commanders. But what they're being accused of here is not discussions over a glass or two of raki. They've being accused of actively planning a military coup to overthrow a democratically elected government.

In this case the military most likely did nothing wrong other than a few war games (which all well-prepared militaries do) and contingency plans. As time has gone by and more 'evidence' has emerged from the cases, the ridiculousness of the allegations are becoming more and more apparent. Thinking of the hundreds of people (including active duty military leaders) that are in jail on phantom charges gives me the same sensation Midnight Express gave to many back in the '70s.

They shouldn't be there.

To me, this is a clear tactic used by the ruling AKP (or JDP as Jenkins refers to them in his article) to quell any opposition to their continued expansion of conservative Islam already permeating all levels of Turkish government. The biggest opposition to any kind of radicalism (may it be Islamic, leftist, or any other) has traditionally been the staunchly Kemalist military, many of whose leaders are now in jail or recently quit out of protest.

I'm still wondering what the tipping point will be. When is enough... well... enough?