From 2007 to 2015: Turkey’s chaotic order continues
The infamous Ergenekon case was launched in May 2007, after the police found 27 grenades in a suburb of Istanbul. Turkey's most important operation turned out to be a political case that had serious consequences on the country's political life, particularly on civil-military relations. Ergenekon was later followed by other operations under different names, which all mainly targeted the powerful Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and staunchly secular segments of society.
Generally it was believed that all such operations were products of a strong alliance between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and the powerful Gülen community. As a result of this legal campaign, the lives of hundreds of prominent figures from the media, academia, and civil society were ruined, with many spending years in prison and a few of them losing their lives.
This process that was launched in mid-2007 ended in late 2013, when a senior AKP official - Yalçın Akdoğan, who is now serving as the deputy prime minister - confessed that the army had been plotted against by the Gülen community. He made this statement just a week after the judiciary launched a massive corruption and graft operation against four Cabinet members on Dec. 17, 2013, which marked the beginning of a very serious row between the government and the Gülen community.
In a bid to cover up the corruption claims, the government chose to describe the Gülenist community and its followers in the media, judiciary, police department and academia as a threat against national security, moving to take measures against them. Massive purges of police officers and judicial personnel, amendments to the structures of key supreme judicial institutions, and the introduction of new bills to empower security departments, are among the measures that the government has taken recently.
Most recently, the editor-in-chief of Zaman newspaper, Ekrem Dumanlı, and the head of Samanyolu TV, Hidayet Karaca, were arrested along with 30 others on charges of being members of a criminal organization. Dumanlı was released pending trial, but Karaca and four others were being kept in custody as of late Dec. 19.
Just like the beginning of Ergenekon process, the case that was opened on Dec. 14 may now serve as a legal basis on which all offenses to be charged against the community – regardless whether they are relevant or not - will be put into the same basket. That would also include leader of the community, Fethullah Gülen, in line with the government’s preparations to issue an arrest warrant against him through Interpol.
The point at which we have arrived is not too promising for the prevailing of democracy in Turkey. The parenthesis that was bracketed in 2007 through Ergenekon is obviously still not closed. Since then, the AKP has increased its votes to 50 percent, elected its leader as president, and consolidated its power within the state bureaucracy as well as in the media, business world, academia, civil society, etc.
Politics is still being shaped through unconvincing judicial operations, critical voices are still being silenced through various means of intimidation, and it’s not clear where this chaotic term will end. On the contrary, with parliamentary elections looming, there are signs that the government will step up its fight against dissidents.