The ‘deep state’ and the Military’s acolytes have struck at the heart of Turkish democracy.

The Turkish ‘deep state’ and the country’s secular establishment, which includes the military’s officer corp, have struck back with some vigor after the Government led by Recip Erdogan, vowed to root out the ‘deep state;’ and passed legislation against the wishes of the Military which will enable pious young women to wear headscarfs when attending university. The chief prosecutor of the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals, Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya, has applied to the Constitutional Court to have Erdogan’s Governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) closed down on charges of anti-secular activities. He described the AK Party as a “being a hotbed of anti-secular activities.” He has also asked the Constitutional Court to impose a five-year ban from involvement in politics on 71 senior AK Party members, including Prime Minister Erdoğan and the President of the Turkish Republic Abdullah Gül, plus a number of other AKP Parliamentarians.

What is happening in Turkey is a rerun of what became known as the ‘post modern coup’ of 1997, when the military and its close political allies removed the government and in the process used the Constitutional Court to ban the Welfare Party, [Refah] the forerunner of the AK Party and banned its then leader Necmettin Erbakan from all political offices and activities.

According to the Turkish daily newspaper Zaman, “AK Party members with backgrounds in law say their party differs radically from the RP [Refah] and the FP,[Islamic political party] which were both shut down over the same charges. They think the prosecutor’s indictment — which references to a speech by Prime Minister Erdoğan stating that the headscarf should not be banned in universities even if it is a political symbol and alcohol bans imposed by some AK Party municipalities as evidence for its anti-secularism allegations — does not make a strong case. These deputies say Yalçınkaya has made some serious legal errors in his indictment.

The indictment also lists amendments made to two articles in the Constitution to put an end to a nearly two-decade-old ban against the headscarf on university campuses. However, the two articles are being challenged legally at the Constitutional Court by the opposition. AK Party lawyers state that it would be impossible, technically, to shut down a party over articles about which a legal process is still under way. They also point out that the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which backed the constitutional amendments concerning the headscarf is not facing any charges; making their defense case even stronger.”

The latter point is very interesting as the right-wing MHP reached to an agreement with the AK Party over the headscarf ban so that it could pass through parliament, yet neither the party nor its leader Devlet Bahceli has been indicted before the Constitutional Court.

Any thought of banning the AKP should be opposed by all democrats; and we should not over look the fact that the legislation that is being used in this attempt to ban AK was first introduced by the government which came to power due to the brutal military coup of 1980. The AKP gained their mandate from the Turkish people just last year, when in the July General Election they received 46.6% of the vote, which gave the party 341 seats out of a total of 550 which are available in the Turkish Parliament.

To say it would be catastrophic for Turkey and its people were the Constitutional Court to ban the party would be an understatement, the very fact that the military and deep state have considered a rerun of the ‘post modern coup’ shows how much they fear democratic change and the opening up of the political process. Whilst most of us on the left believe the AKP government has been far to conservative, especially fiscally, there is little doubt it has been the most open and honest government that Turkey has seen for decades.

When undemocratic forces act in the aforementioned manner, the poem attributed to Martin Niemöller is well worth revisiting.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.



Filed under AKP., coup, democracy, EU, Europe, military, Organized Rage, Turkey

6 responses to “The ‘deep state’ and the Military’s acolytes have struck at the heart of Turkish democracy.

  1. turkishtvwatch

    Again, a comment with a, to me, rather strange soft spot for the AKP.

    It is true that the AKP is under threat of closure, though it is not really a challenge to the prevailing system. I would go a bit deeper into this rather than simply sing the AKP’s praises, as Mick Hall does.

    First of all, Turkey is not really a bourgeois democracy. Getting 47% or so of the popular vote and a majority of seats in parliament mean little – for it is not parliament that actually rules the country. The MGK (National Security Council), heavily weighted with generals, is the true ruler of Turkey.

    The oligarchy that rules Turkey does not want any political party to become too powerful, hence this current action. It is too early to say whether this will be a re-run of 1997 or whether the AKP will avoid banning and remain in “government”.

    The AKP’s own commitment to democracy and the opening up of the political process is questionable. It prosecuted a satirical magazine for caricaturing its leader Tayyip Erdogan, and people are still being prosecuted for crimes like using the letter “w” (seen as evidence of Kurdish separatism). There was a dip in repression in the early AKP years compared to the previous government, but there was probably less oppositional activity as well, particularly of the armed kind. Even the AKP’s moves against the “deep state” have smacked of attacks on parliamentary opposition forces rather than any real attempt to come to grips with the Turkish state of the past. Moreover, some of the state’s worst crimes, like the killing of over a hundred Newroz demonstrators in 1992, were not “deep state” but out there in the open.

  2. Mick Hall

    Turkish TV watch,

    You make some good points, you are correct in that in the last couple of years the AK Party has slowed down on its reforms of the State, for example it balked at removing the legislation it has now been indicted before the constitutional court under.[which would be amusing if it were not so serious]

    The AK Party leadership seems to have come to believe if it gave in to the military over attacking the PKK/Kurds in Iraq, they in turn would leave the AK alone. Pretty naive I am sure you would agree.

    It seems to me Erdogan has only one choice, it is to rally the democratic forces within Turkey and challenge the deep state and the MGK head on. From Ufuk Uras on the left within Parliament, right across to sections of the political right, bar the CHP, most are against the AKP being banned, as to are some trade unions and the emerging Anatolian middle classes. With the Turkish Lira falling heavily yesterday, the Istanbul business community must be feeling a little uncomfortable. Even within the CHP it seems many members are unhappy with Deniz Baykal’s leadership on this matter.

    Best regards

  3. Mick Hall

    Sorry I did not answer your point about the nature of the Turkish State. I suppose one could call the Turkish state a bourgeois democracy with inherent weaknesses within it due to historical reasons. True the Military has the means to intervene in the democratic process, but to do so they must now act in an obviously undemocratic way, which in todays world, unlike in the past has placed them on the back foot.

    Thus a mandate of 47% is not to be stiffed, as it gives the AK party the high ground if and it is an if, they decide to take on politically the MGK. This is a historic battle that must be fought if Turkey is ever to become a normal bourgeois democracy similar to those that exist in Western Europe.

    Thus those of us on the left must be on the side of progress against reaction, no matter that we believe the type of progress represented by the AK is limited.

  4. turkishtvwatch

    I am not sure making Turkey a “normal bourgeois democracy” is particularly desirable. I live in one and do not find it especially appealing. Quite a few lefties from there I talk to actually believe the system in their country to be a form of fascism, albeit thinly disguised. When a mainstream (ie. not revolutionary and not “separatist” party) can get closed down by generals no matter how many votes it gets, this would seem to me to reinforce that particular argument.

    Moreover, Ataturk is the object of official veneration in Turkey but was a general who never held a free election. Since everyone mainstream in Turkey claims to be defending Ataturk’s legacy, I do not think looking undemocratic will stop the generals if they are really determined.

    I assumed that the generals agreed to a little leeway on the headscarf in return for AKP approval of going into northern Iraq. This is the mutual backscratching that goes on there.

  5. turkishtvwatch

    Interesting developments, with several more people being arrested over Ergenekon, including leader of the “Workers’Party” Dogu Perincek, who has now been imprisoned. Perincek is a dodgy fake left, more like a fascist, who has long been thought linked to the Turkish security services, but some of the other arrests, like that of Ilhan Selcuk, an 85-year-old senior journalist for the daily Cumhuriyet, are more questionable (he has been given conditional release).

    Hundreds, perhaps thousands, have been detained over Newroz, and there are two reported deaths.

  6. Mick Hall

    Indeed TTVW

    I also note that the Turkish press are saying that one of those arrested had a copy of the chief prosecutors indictment of the AK, dated two days before it was published, plus the indictment itself is full of holes due to silly mistakes like Gul being Foreign Minister still etc.

    I agree it is good to see Ilhan Selcuk has been released, one does not have to agree with all his political views to see he is an impressive man, 85 years old and still battling away.

    Interesting times.

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