What will AKP’s next move on army be?
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
As civilian courts have been granted authority to try soldiers, coup allegations have also been brought before the judiciary for the first time in history. Numerous generals all the way up to a retired chief of General Staff Başbuğ were arrested.The military had been deeply nested in politics until the Çankaya wars of 2007. Coups, memoranda and declarations all served as tools to shape politics. Civilian-military relations have taken an entirely different course, however, during the 10th year of the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). AKP-military relations that were mired in problems at the beginning today seem harmonious, and the AKP is inclined to make another momentous decision during this term.
When the AKP acceded to power in 2002, serious problems with the top brass soon followed. Let us recall how a statement of opposition against the decisions of the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) was lodged during Abdullah Gül’s term as prime minister. The AKP government gradually began to weigh in heavier at the YAŞ after issuing a strong backlash against the declaration penned by Büyükanıt. It toyed around with the hierarchy of the command echelons and chose not to comply with established practices. The AKP forced into retirement the General Staff and other force commanders with whom they did not want to work.
As civilian courts were granted powers to try soldiers, coup allegations were also brought before the judiciary for the first time in history. Numerous generals all the way up to a retired chief of General Staff were arrested and their subsequent trials ensued. The job of holding official receptions on Aug. 30 (Victory Day) was passed on from chiefs of General Staff to the president, as he bears the title “commander in chief.” The double seating arrangement at YAŞ was altered, as the prime minister began presiding over the table all by himself.
People discharged from the military through the decisions of YAŞ were granted the license to appeal to the judiciary. Military spending was subjected to inspections by the Court of Accounts. Generals who returned to their posts after being tried in court were relieved of their duties rather than receiving new appointments.
A search was conducted in the cosmic room of the General Staff for the first time. The long-debated Army battalion was removed off Parliament grounds. The control of the General Staff Electronic Systems (GES) Command in the Bayrak Garrison, often referred to as a listening post, was transferred to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT).
As we were chatting up with an AKP minister in Parliament’s backrooms, we remembered the past. “What was to follow next?” The minister spoke of rising democratic standards and said civilian-military relations were gradually settling into a healthy norm. He drew attention to the fact that the Presidency of the General Staff could be subordinated to the Defense Ministry. He also implied the change could be enacted during the present term.
There is ongoing work to this effect within the AKP, according to my observations. It is also highly likely that this work could be brought before Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission that will begin discussing the contents of a new constitution in April. No one in the commission might oppose the suggestion except the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The chief of General Staff, who ranks in fourth place in the protocols after the president, Parliament speaker and the prime minister, will be pushed back to the same rank as the force commanders who follow Cabinet members in the 10th row if the General Staff is subordinated to the Ministry of Defense.
BDP COULD LEAVE CHARTER PANEL
The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has been pushed to the edge by the recent search of independent deputy Leyla Zana’s house, detentions in the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case and the continued isolation of Abdullah Öcalan. The BDP’s “hawkish” wing that has expressed reservations about the absurdity of framing a new constitution under these repressive circumstances, could recommend their party’s withdrawal from the Constitution Conciliation Commission. The unfolding developments could force the BDP to abandon the commission. Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek’s intervention and his statements of warning to officials following the raid on Zana’s tenement demonstrate that such concerns are not in vain. The commission’s integrity could be endangered, if epressive policies grow more profuse.
BAYKAL SIGNALS ‘RETURN TO OFFICE’
Dissidents within the Republican People’s Party (CHP) are accruing support to amend party regulations. Önder Sav’s team and Deniz Baykal have once more fallen into disagreement. Baykal and his friends have consequently decided against lending their support, citing the 39th article that oversees “the party leader’s appointment of any figure he desires from the Party Assembly to the Central Administrative Council.” Baykal wants the article to remain in effect, while Önder Sav would like to see it changed on the grounds that “it grants extraordinary powers to the party leader.” Why does Baykal insist in conserving the article? It is rumored in the backrooms that “he must be thinking he could once more return to the party’s helm someday.”