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A quick look at our ’Patriotic’ forces

Friday 13 July 2007, by Elif Özmenek

The conversation a day after the murder of journalist Hrant Dink was as follows: -Selamun aleykum, what’s up? -Aleykum selam, I am at the bazaar walking around. -The guy that was killed yesterday… Is that our friends’ flesh? -Yes it is. -Do you think that they will be caught? -No, no! -God bless our friends! According to police records this conversation took place on January 20 – a day after Dink, the editor in chief of Agos newspaper was killed – between the vice president and a member of the Power Unity of Patriotic Forces Movement (VKGB).

Toward the end of last week the office of the attorney general announced that the members of the VKGB will be investigated for the Dink assassination as well as for the attacks on Turkey’s highest court in Ankara on May 17, 2006. This announcement came a day after the arrest of 12 members of VKGB, including Taner Ünal, its chairman, in a covert police operation. The Ministry of Interior initiated the operation.

The members of the Power Unity of Patriotic Forces Movement were charged with 40 different misdoings that vary from assassination to forgery and child pornography. The prosecutor’s office also announced that VKGB’s links might reach high-level military officials, prosecutors, judges and members of the police force. At this point it is very difficult to figure out the links and the extent of the actions the VKGB undertook or continues to undertake. In other words it is complicated to say what the VKGB is. It is also unclear that even if the investigation is expanded whether the links can ever be found or those responsible will ever be prosecuted. However VKGB showcases one thing very clearly : The concept of nationalism is going through very dramatic changes in Turkey on many levels. At the conceptual level the notion of “ulusalcılık” started to develop as an alternative to nationalism.

The definition of the two terms differs dramatically. Although “ulusalcılık” can only be translated into English as nationalism, its manifestation in Turkey is very different. Initially the leftists to distinguish themselves from the fascist right-ultranationalists created the concept “ulusalcılık”. As opposed to the Turkish-Islam synthesis, which is the main theme of nationalist discourse that bears ethnic racism, “ulusalcılık” has anti-imperialism as its core principle. On February 23, 2003 thousands came together in Istanbul to protest against the Annan Plan and support Turkish Cyprus. This was a very interesting milestone on the Turkish political scene. For the first time ever the ultranationalist and the left rallied together for the same cause. In the following days leftist and ultranationalist rightist journals started to publish each other’s articles and “ulusalcılık” became a platform for the “left” and “right” to come closer. The two groups actually demonstrated together against the Armenian conference that was held at Bilgi University in 2005.

“ulusalcilik and milliyetçilik”

At the political level “ulusalcılık” became a clear sign that the Turkish Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ultra-nationalist neo-fascist movement founded by Alparslan Türkeş in 1969 does not rely on its old base as it used to. Ülkücü Hareket (The Idealist Movement) inspired by Italian fascist Giovanni Gentile’s “Actual Idealism” theory started to break up with this new movement of “ulusalcılık.” In April 2005, the former members of the Idealist Movement founded VKGB. “Our goal is to undertake Atatürk’s nationalization project that was left in the middle and empower the ‘Real Turks’ in economy, bureaucracy and politics who will implement his other reforms,” said Taner Ünal, the chairman of VKGB in several interviews that he had given to the Turkish press. Ünal states that members of VKGB believe İsmet İnonu, the second President of Turkey – an iconic name in the Turkish Independence Movement, started a counter-revolution to diminish the roles of Turks in administrative positions after Atatürk, and instead filled important ranks with non-Muslims. The VKGB was founded with a goal to reverse this so called “counter revolution” that has been going on for decades now.

Within the framework of such a goal the VKGB’s objectives are to stand up to the IMF that has the Turkish economy in a stranglehold, to struggle against Jews that keep buying land in Anatolia with secret agreements, to defend Turkish Cyprus and to fight against the PKK whose real goal is to invade all of Turkey. Furthermore Ünal lays out their political agenda if they seize power: “We are very against the European Union. We will annul all agreements that were signed after Atatürk, kick all foreign investment out and start re-nationalization.” If ever the movement reaches a membership of five million, then Ünal claims that they can change everything in Turkey. According to VKGB’s numbers since its foundation one-and-a-half million people applied for membership; however only 600,000 of those applications were accepted. Though the police disagree with the numbers and claim that the VKGB has only about 3,000 members. Whatever the numbers Ünal makes it clear that the VKGB carefully examines membership applications. “We look for who is a real patriot and who is a traitor,” he explains their main membership criterion as being. Ünal with this criterion, perhaps unknowingly, gives an important snapshot of the transformation in Turkey: The critical question in this quite dramatic change is who is a “patriot” and who is a “traitor.”

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Source : TDN, Tuesday, July 10, 2007

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