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Who is in control of ‘the process’?

Thursday 31 July 2008, by Yavuz Baydar

Nobody. As if it is in an ongoing chain reaction, Turkey has become a dangerous laboratory where the magnitude of prospective explosions is unpredictable.

It looks, to use another metaphor, like a bus rolling down the hill, bumping into this and that, with no clue in sight as to where and how it will stop. Whoever you speak to these days, including those in the upper echelons, all you hear are expressions of profound uncertainty, concern and fear.
Those involved actively in the chain reaction process do not seem to have a clue as to what sorts of implications it will have. They roll along with it.

As expected, the fierce psychological warfare has now spread to the state institutions and consequently, the burden on the judiciary is approaching the point of being unbearable. It is apparent that the judicial apparatus was placed deliberately as the “axis of balance” in the magnificent battle for power, but the miscalculation has proved to be that those in the judiciary are human beings, not robots.

Now, the tension has spread to the top levels of the military. As the annual meeting of the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) approaches — slated for early August — the question of who will be elected to key positions and who will be the odd ones out becomes not only a defining puzzle in Turkish politics, but also the defining piece of a nasty manipulation campaign. Newspapers are now full of stories on current commanders, some about their private lives.

The intentions to discredit are obviously there, and one also finds that there are some deep rifts and vicious intrigues troubling the traditionally strong and united top command. The obvious conclusion must be based on the assumption that there is also disagreement on Turkey’s course.

On the other hand, the information war pits institutions against each other. Reacting to the (confirmed) stories about a meeting between the deputy chairman of the Constitutional Court, Osman Paksüt, and commander of the Land Forces Gen. İlker Başbuğ, the top court called the judiciary (i.e., the prosecutors) to “duty” (i.e., to indict those involved in spreading the news, including the press). The top court’s chairman, Haşim Kılıç, is also furious, because one ultranationalist commentator, Tuncay Özkan, accused him of having ties to a fundamentalist group.

Angered by press reports on Başbuğ and Gen. Ergin Saygun - vice chief of the General Staff — the military command issued a tough statement, threatening “all those who attack the institution” would pay for their deeds at the courts.

But the Ministry of Justice does not agree. Prosecutors will not take orders to launch cases, it says. As the nerves become more and more strained, the gap between the institutions signals: “Danger ahead.”

As much as fear, anger also eats at the soul. What we are witnessing, somewhat helplessly, is the “slow-motion implosion” of Turkey’s fundamental institutions. Apparently lost, adrift with the lack of direction, their credibility is fading. When the judiciary comes into focus, as is now happening, a dam of trust might burst. Nobody has calculated for that.

What kind of future is seen as appropriate for Turkey? Today’s deepening struggle is based on the discourse and limitations of the 1982 Constitution. One side of the struggle is determined to resist to the very end to keep it unchanged, blindly refusing to realize that Turkey, having moved ahead quite a bit in political and economic reform, cannot pretend that genies are still in the bottle. This is what a colleague of mine, Cengiz Aktar, rightly calls “political schizophrenia.”

And the other side is weary, confused, dismayed and visionless. Through major mistakes, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has lost a considerable section of support from the “reformist periphery” and with an even more fragile coalition for change, it seems only to be watching a game, as if watching a horror movie.

We will be made aware of the magnitude of the danger when the party closure cases reach the “grand finale.” May Turkey be saved from institutional ruin.

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Source : TDZ, 16.06.2008

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