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The struggle for Turkey

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  • #61

    February 25, 2010 -- Turkey's prime minister dismissed opposition calls for early elections today and met with the country's military chief to try to defuse tensions over the government's investigation into an alleged military coup plot. Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has detained more than 50 military officers this week for allegedly plotting to overthrow his government in 2003, a year after his party came to power. So far 20 have been charged. The tensions between Turkey's two main political forces – the Islamic-based government and the fiercely secular military – have worried businesses and investors. Opposition parties have urged early elections to end the turmoil.

    Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul held a three-hour meeting today with General Ilker Basbug, chief of the military. In a joint statement afterwards they said that "matters will be handled in line with the law and everyone should act responsibly not to damage institutions". TV channels quoted Erdogan as saying that the meeting was "pleasant". But the military chief looked anxious and uneasy. Later Erdogan told CNN-Turk television that early elections were "certainly not on our party's agenda. Everyone should know this." The government says it is trying to put the military, which has ousted four civilian governments since 1960, under civilian rule, just as it is in western democracies. An analyst questioned today's apparent consensus. "The summit meeting was aimed at easing tensions," said Tufan Turenc, a political analyst for the daily Hurriyet newspaper. "But unfortunately, the institutions are not in a position to trust each other anymore."

    A Turkish court today formally charged eight more military officers with plotting to topple the government, increasing the number of officers who have been charged and jailed to 20. They include five admirals and three generals. Wiretap evidence and the discovery of alleged plans for a military coup drafted in 2003 – a year after the current Islamic-based government was elected – led to the detention of about 50 military commanders by police on Monday.

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    • #62

      ISTANBUL, February 26, 201 -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the army Friday that no one is above the law as prosecutors grilled the suspected ringleader of an alleged 2003 coup plan to oust the democratically elected government. "Those who make plans behind closed doors to crush the people's will must see that from now on they will face justice," Erdogan told a party gathering in Ankara as 11 more soldiers were charged in the unprecedented judicial onslaught against the influential Turkish military. "No one is above the law, no one has impunity," he added. The investigation has rattled the country, raising fears of an open confrontation between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the army. Erdogan dismissed accusations that his party was trying to discredit the army, and described the probe a step towards improving the country's democracy. "What is happening today is normalisation... These are the footsteps of an advanced democracy," he said. "No one should have doubts and fears... Turkey is moving towards an advanced democracy."

      The Turkish army has ousted four governments since 1960 and wielded significant influence on politics, but has seen its clout wane under reforms spearhead by Erdogan's government. In Istanbul, prosecutors were questioning retired four-star general Cetin Dogan, who allegedly spearheaded the coup plot, Anatolia news agency said. Earlier, a court jailed 11 more suspects pending trial, bringing the total number of those incarcerated to 31, including both serving and retired soldiers. The three most senior figures questioned so far - ex-navy chief Ozden Ornek, former air force commander Ibrahim Firtina and the former number two of the general staff, Ergin Saygun - were released by prosecutors late Thursday in a move welcomed as a gesture de-escalating tensions in the short term. However, the prosecutor in charge said the investigation was continuing, raising the possibility that the trio may still face trial. Detailed charges against the suspects will become clear once the prosecution draws up its indictment.

      The alleged coup plot is said to have been drafted in 2003 within the Istanbul-based First Army, shortly after the AKP came to power. The First Army was at the time headed by Dogan, who was also a key figure in a harsh army campaign in 1997 that forced Turkey's prime minister and Erdogan's mentor, Necmettin Erbakan, to resign. Several other soldiers were also to be questioned Friday, Anatolia said. It is unknown whether the suspects made any move to activate the plan, codenamed "Operation Sledgehammer", first reported in January by the Taraf newspaper. The plot allegedly involved plans to bomb mosques and provoke tensions with Greece to force the downing of a Turkish jet, thus discrediting the government and leading to its downfall. Taraf said the plan was discussed in a seminar in March 2003, chaired by Dogan. Denying any coup plot, Dogan has said they only discussed contingency plans based on a scenario of domestic unrest involving Islamist movements, coupled with the threat of a war. He has charged that seminar documents were doctored to include plans to bomb mosques and for the downing of a Turkish jet. Amid allegations that army members made a series of plans to discredit and topple the AKP, government supporters say the army must be forced to toe the line and stop meddling in politics.

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      • #63

        ISTANBUL, March 1, 2010 — A Turkish court has charged two more army officers over an alleged 2003 plot to overthrow the Islamist-rooted government, Anatolia news agency reported Monday. The latest charges, late Sunday, bring the number of suspects held to 35. The court ordered that the pair - a colonel heading the paramilitary force in the central Konya province and a lieutenant colonel - should be kept in jail pending trial, the report said. Detailed charges against the suspects will become known once prosecutors draw up their indictement. Eight other suspects were released, Anatolia said. Police last week rounded up about 70 serving and retired soldiers as part of a probe into an alleged plot to foment unrest and unseat the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the offshoot of a banned Islamist movement. Among those incarcerated is an alleged leader of the plot, retired four-star general Cetin Dogan, former commander of the Istanbul-based First Army. The coup plan was allegedly drawn up and discussed in Istanbul in 2003, shortly after the AKP came to power. The plot - codenamed "Operation Sledgehammer" - reportedly involved plans to bomb mosques and provoke tensions with Greece to force the downing of a Turkish jet, an incident which would spark political chaos and justify a military takeover against the government. The massive probe has rattled Turkey, raising fears of a showdown between the AKP and the army, which has unseated four governments since 1960. The Turkish military has traditionally wielded significant influence on politics, but has seen its clout wane under the AKP.

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                          • #73
                            Samir Allam :


                            February 27, 2011 -- Necmettin Erbakan, a longtime leader of Turkey's Islamic political movement and briefly the prime minister in the first Islamic-led coalition in the country's modern history, died on Sunday aged 85. The leader of the Felicity party had been working on election strategy ahead of polls in June despite his deteriorating health, said Recai Kutan, a close confidant. Doctors said Erbakan died of heart failure. He also had respiratory problems and a chronic vein infection in his left leg. Affectionately known as Hodja – or teacher – Erbakan served a year as prime minister before he was pressured by the secular military to step down in 1997. His Welfare party was shut down by the constitutional court for undermining secularism, which led to the birth of the country's now ruling Justice and Development party as well as several small pro-Islamic parties. The prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a former Welfare party member, said: "We will always remember him with gratitude as a teacher and a leader."

                            Erbakan was first elected to parliament after standing as an independent candidate in 1969, and laid the seeds of the country's political Islamic movement. He served as deputy prime minister in several coalitions in the 1970s. He set up five political parties, four of which were closed down after military coups or by courts on the grounds of undermining secular principles. Turkey's military sees itself as the guardian of Turkey's secular traditions, and Erbakan had alarmed the generals with moves to allow female civil servants to wear Islamic attire at work and to rearrange working hours to fit fasting times during Ramadan. He was barred from politics for five years and convicted of falsifying party records and hiding millions in cash reserves ordered to be seized after his party's closure in 1998. He was elected as head of the Felicity party as soon as his ban ended in 2003. The party had been expected to win only a tiny percentage of votes in the June elections. However, on Sunday the leader of another small pro-Islamic party signalled a possible alliance. "We were last talking about a possible cooperation in the elections," said Abdullah Latif Sener, leader of the Turkey party. "We will follow his wish."

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