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Sunday, October 26, 2008

GLADIO Turkey Trial News

Ekrem Dumanli / Todayszaman

Either Ergenekon or inevitable end

Whoever fails to purge its gang will be purged by that gang.
Whoever fails to dismantle its Gladio will be dismantled by that Gladio.
Whoever fails to beat its junta will be beaten by that junta.
That is the rule.

The history of the Turkish politics is full of examples of this. Since we don't (cannot) investigate juntas at the most critical times, these illegal networks gain strength and evolve to become unbeatable monsters, undermining the very institutions which remained silent when they had the capability to confront them on legal grounds.

Actually, we don't need to list all these examples one by one if we just recall the most recent example:

The Susurluk network was caught after a traffic accident that unearthed the dirty relations among a deputy, a senior police chief and a former ultranationalist wanted by the police. The politicians of the time failed to correctly analyze this grave picture. When then-Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan dismissed the claims as unimportant, he was trying to ensure the survival of the coalition government. Indeed, the Susurluk network had ties with the True Path Party (DYP), which was the coalition partner of Erbakan's Welfare Party (RP). In order to save itself from the effects of the Susurluk investigation, the DYP tried to make use of the RP's power and was only successful to a certain extent. The growing popular reaction took aim not only at the DYP, but also at the RP. Did the tactic prove successful in keeping them in government? No. Their government could not stay in power; that is because if a government fails to put its legal organs to work in unearthing a network caught in the act and questioning that network, then people will start to question the failing government. That is how it happened.

The majority of media organizations gave the impression that they were against the Susurluk network. The picture was exactly as follows: On the one hand there were media organizations that fearlessly promoted the unearthing of the network and the "nongovernmental organizations" that supported them through campaigns of turning off the lights and creating noise with saucepans every evening, while on the other hand the government tried unsuccessfully to conceal the dirty acts of the network instead of investigating them more deeply. And the judiciary was in complete silence. The picture encouraged the network to put its social engineers to work.

However, when the Ergenekon network was first uncovered, we saw a role swap. Certain media organization who actively promoted the unearthing of deep state networks in the past started to treat Ergenekon -- the biggest trial of our recent political history -- as "insignificant." Had they really expected, as they tended to advertise, the government to give a green light to the legal process? Were they really straightforward in their frequently voiced argument that the failure of the state to employ its capabilities in purging these illegal networks meant throwing away the country's chance to promote greater democracy and transparency?

Seeing their performance, one can justifiably reason that if the coalition government of Erbakan and Tansu Çiller had attempted to purge the Susurluk network, media organizations and their "civilian" allies who now lend support to Ergenekon would have assumed complete silence and inaction. The current government did not politicize the Ergenekon trial; they just did not block the legal process. Even this is an important development. This government would have described the network as an "insignificant matter." If they had done so, Ergenekon would have collapsed on the government. The opposition parties, which felt so much sympathy toward the network whose advocate they claimed to be and which applauded certain people who were arrested in connection with the Ergenekon investigation at their party meetings, are losing support. Those who act submissively toward the network, too, may be purged by the nation. If a political organization fails to make this assessment, it should not engage in politics in this country.

Following the end of the Cold War, every country dismantled its Gladio because it was an organization which had been established according to the circumstances of a specific era. This organization, which relied heavily on guerrilla warfare and subconsciously employed psychological warfare, believed the country was surrounded by enemies that were trying to invade it. Democratic countries got rid of these deep networks in the post-Cold War era because they tended to use their power in illegal activities. Only Turkey could not purge its Gladio. In this respect, the Ergenekon trial is critically important. Every act of treason that undermines this legal process will bring darkness to the country's progress toward democracy and transparency. An atmosphere of repression of the judiciary, any weakness shown for political benefit and any support given to the network out of fear of media organizations would be an unforgivable error. Yes, we are at a crossroads: Either the Ergenekon(s) will be eliminated, or democracy will be forever suspended in this country.

Thursday, 23 October 2008 07:37


The power of the judiciary


All throughout the last week, the judiciary has made its power felt by the entire country. The top three items on the national agenda were results of the judiciary.s actions.

First, the Ergenekon trial commenced amidst confusion and controversy. Second, the Constitutional Court announced its reasoned decision concerning its "headscarf decision," which sent shockwaves throughout the country. Third, the Constitutional Court made public another reasoned decision regarding the closure case against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which had deadlocked all affairs in the country for a period of six months.

In Turkey, the judiciary is independent. Moreover, it is powerful. It conducts its business in a cool-headed and decisive manner. Whatever decision it makes, it makes sure that its independence and power is felt by everyone in the country.

These three areas dominated by the judiciary.s power are at the same time the main cleavages in politics. Those who are not content with the first of these three agenda items in which we feel the strength of the judiciary are happy with the second decision, while the third decision, it seems, has not satisfied either side.

Ergenekonism as a political view

The investigation that started with the police seizing 27 hand grenades in a house that belonged to a retired military officer evolved into a trial of a "terrorist organization" and expectations were quite high as the trial commenced. The confusion and disorderly appearance of the first day of the trial was corrected in two days, which is a great success. The same level of success is expected for the conclusion of the trial. Turkey will settle its unresolved affairs from over the last half century through this trial. With this trial a counter-guerrilla organization that has been, for about 50 years, involved in every dirty activity is being unraveled. In the early 1950s in NATO countries secret organizations trained in guerrilla-warfare techniques were established under the historically important names. For instance, "wind vane" in France, "sheep hide" in Greece, "sword" (Gladio) in Italy and "Ergenekon" in Turkey.

These clandestine networks were supposed to conduct ideological war against the Soviets. Their duties included assassinations and sabotage, political operations, establishing ties with gangs and setting up other clandestine organizations. In Italy, Greece and Turkey these networks diverted from the original plan and used their powers and authorities to struggle for political power and personal benefits. They turned the weapons of the ideological war toward their own people and democratic governments.

The Ergenekon terrorist organization is the completely corrupted form of the Turkish counter-guerrilla team, which was transformed into a network seeking personal benefits and planning to undermine social peace and stability to this end. What we now face is a degenerate form of counter-guerrilla tactics plotting provocations to obtain material benefits and seize power. These tactics include throwing hand grenades at the Cumhuriyet daily.s headquarters and killing a judge of the Council of State as provocations. This organization contains party leaders who fail to find audiences for their marginal ideas in a democratic society, columnists, writers, aspiring mafia types, academicians who seek fame with their failing science, journalists who attempt to get closer to power and fame and retired soldiers who have persuaded themselves that the country about which they know so little is in danger and who seek to be heroes by saving the country from this danger.

Ergenekonism also covers those who search for lives outside democracy. If you decided to get involved in politics the easy way by relying on the power balances within the state instead of working hard to seek popular acceptance, your destination is clearly Ergenekonism. This is the very reason why the leader of the main opposition Republican People.s Party (CHP) described himself as the "lawyer of Ergenekon."

Those who seek support for themselves through other than democratic power and those who think that they will not realize their interests or protect what they currently have if they stay within the boundaries of democracy will also head directly for Ergenekon.

Freedom and peace in the nation

The reasoning behind the two decisions announced by the Constitutional Court is related to the principle of secularism. Its headscarf decision relies exclusively on secularism, and its decision concerning the closure case against the AK Party is basically related to the same discussion. Actually, the headscarf decision serves as the reasoning for the closure case decision. In the reasoning for the first decision, the court argues that if you introduce freedom of apparel to universities, there is the risk that this freedom may make a segment of society unhappy. Freedom disturbs the peace of mind of a certain social segment. Who is doing the disturbing? Who is disturbed? How are they disturbed?

You may remember the famous headline of a paper from the 1940s concerning crowds rushing for Moda Beach in I.stanbul: "Citizens cannot swim as people rush to beaches" -- in which a newspaper actually divided the nation in half along class lines. If young girls wear headscarf in line with the freedom of religion and conscience and attend universities in this manner (i.e., if you let the people go free), then citizens will be disturbed. The reasoning behind the Constitutional Court.s decision is entirely based on this distinction. Although it talks about "religion-based division" and complains about the possibility of headscarf freedom "undermining" or even "completely destroying" social peace and national solidarity, the court does not regard the women wearing the headscarf as "citizens who have rights and freedoms." It declares itself as the spokesperson and protector of the "citizens" who oppose the headscarf and who scorn the people who wear it. Furthermore, by relying on this nonexistent disquietude, it divides the society along the fault line of religious freedom.

The Constitutional Court itself creates a division and assumes the position of becoming the mouthpiece of a certain social segment and its interests. There seem to be two striking flaws of reasoning here:

First, the Constitutional Court.s reasoning is not about the headscarf being worn by university girls, but about the headscarf in general. In other words, the Constitutional Court gave a decision and made comments about the headscarf worn by about 65 percent of the women in this country. If the court.s reasoning is followed, then a general ban on the headscarf should be introduced. This point seems to have been overlooked by many people. The Constitutional Court did not just judge the freedom to wear the headscarf at universities, headscarf in all social spheres.

The second is the cancellation of the amendment to Article 10 of the Constitution. As is known, this amendment was originally the idea of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The AK Party had claimed that this amendment would not be sufficient for headscarf freedom at universities and Article 42 had therefore been included within the package. Article 10 concerns the principle of equality and the amendment just reinforces the existing principle in the article. The phrase inserted was like this: "and in utilizing all public services." This phrase was not sufficient for headscarf freedom, but the Constitutional Court canceled this amendment, as well.

By ruling against this phrase, the Constitutional Court effectively tells us, "Everyone cannot be equal in utilizing all public services."

The court actually rejects secularism, because there are two concrete and inalienable outcomes of secularism: equality in filling public offices and equality in benefiting from public services. The state must be indifferent to differences in religious beliefs to ensure these equalities.

The court.s reasoning concerning the closure case against the AK Party is the same. The court acts as the mouthpiece of a minority that does not vote for this party. It reasons as if it is an opposition party, but makes its ruling as a judicial organ.

There is a serious, courageous and skillful judiciary with respect to the fight against crime and criminals. However, when political issues are at issue, the constitutional judiciary is like a power dividing Turkey.

25 October 2008, Saturday

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