One day after the Sept. 22 meeting between Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the CHP
officially appealed to the Constitutional Court for the annulment of decree laws issued by the government since late July.
CHP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Levent Gök recalled that the government has issued eight decree laws so far, while discussions are also underway on extending the state of emergency beyond its initial three month period.
The CHP’s concerns can be considered under a number of aspects: First, the scope of recent decree laws has gone far beyond responding to immediate needs sparked as a result of the July 15 coup attempt. Many legal changes, like the one restructuring the military, that could have been discussed at parliament have been put into effect at the speed of light without public discussion.
Second, administrative measures introduced by decree laws can only be valid during the state of emergency and therefore governments cannot introduce permanent implementations. The CHP’s petition includes a Constitutional Court ruling from the early 1990s that annulled a decree law on this ground.
Third, the CHP
says the government has begun to use decree laws in an arbitrary way to crackdown on dissidents, and is concerned that the ruling party be unwilling to give up the authorities it currently enjoys. The CHP
worries that this process will further undermine the constitution, as many such moves are in open violation of it.
This last point is certainly not baseless. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
has openly signaled that the government might extend the state of emergency for another term, citing France as example. Furthermore, Prime Minister Yıldırım has openly told the CHP
leader that the government is preparing to extend the state of emergency for another term.
The government will likely argue there are three main reasons for extending the state of emergency: First, as Yıldırım recently admitted, it has been proven that identifying all Gülenists within the state system is not easy. Although the investigation into the failed coup attempt has been deepened, there are still uncertainties about who the top leaders of July 15 were. One example is Adil Öksüz. This person, who was not known by the Turkish public in any way until July 15, appears to have been one of Fethullah Gülen’s top allies coordinating Gülenists within the Turkish Air Forces. After being briefly detained after the coup, Öksüz was released - allegedly thanks to other Gülenists either within the government or the judiciary. He has since vanished into thin air.
This prompts other questions on the political leg of the coup plotters, which is an issue that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has so far refrained from approaching. Some AKP officials have, however, started to draw attention to this dilemma.
The second justification the government might cite for extending the state of emergency are the increasing claims about links between the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
(PKK). There are ever more reports appearing in the pro-government media suggesting that FETÖ was in fact an active partner of the PKK
in making so many of its terror acts possible. As the fight against the PKK
is unlikely to cease in the foreseeable future, the government will be able to use this supposed link to justify an extension of the state of emergency.
The third potential justification is about unaccomplished structural changes. There have been important reorganizations within the army and other security bodies, but planned moves on restructuring the intelligence agency remain unrealized. There are suggestions of dividing the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) into two, one part dealing with internal intelligence and the other dealing with external intelligence, and creating an umbrella organization to oversee both operations. However, there is speculation that current MİT Chief Hakan Fidan is unhappy with this plan as he may not be given the top position in this potential structure.
Meanwhile, while all this is underway, there are growing rumors of another cabinet reshuffle in the coming days. This will likely be put into effect after consultations between President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Yıldırım, and it seems likely that it will strengthen the cabinet for an intensified campaign against dissidents.