Now we see what kind of a presidential system he craves
Here is the brief story:
- Unknown people release input that shows Turkish intelligence trucks bound for Syria with cargo that hardly looks like tents, food or medicine. That input is already in the public domain. Prosecutors launch a probe into the cargo and its lawfulness.
- Several months after that, a newspaper publishes photos of the gendarmerie raid on the trucks with full and not-so-surprising details about its cargo.
- The prime minister claims that the cargo was humanitarian aid for the Turkmen in Syria.
- The president steps in and says the journalists who ran this scoop will pay a heavy price for this. “I’ll not let this go,” he says. Signal flashed.
- A prosecutor accuses the two journalists, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, for high treason and military and political espionage along with terrorism, without explaining how a news story could be secret espionage material.
- The prime minister keeps claiming that the cargo was humanitarian aid. He does not explain why humanitarian aid was being transported clandestinely or why running a news story on a humanitarian cargo should be prosecuted for “revealing state secrets.” Why, really, was a humanitarian cargo a state secret?
Why are Turkey’s other humanitarian efforts are not state secrets?
- After the journalists spend 92 days in jail under an indictment demanding the penalty of life imprisonment and penal servitude for life, the Constitutional Court rules that their trial under detention was a breach of their fundamental rights, and the court releases them. They will stand trial without detention.
Everyone, inside and outside Turkey, happy? Almost everyone.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in remarks as clear as if he was speaking to a three-year-old, said that he “does not accept or respect” the court’s decision that paved the way for the journalists’ release. He also vowed, in a short, crystal clear remark, that he would not “obey” the ruling.
What exactly does that mean? What is the president telling us? He will not “accept, respect or obey” any court ruling, including from the top court, when he does not like that ruling. This is a new jurisprudence. We now have two kinds of court rulings: Those our president likes and those he does not. And he will not “obey” those he does not like.
What exactly does he mean when he says he will not obey a court ruling? Will he send the presidential guards, arrest the journalists and put them into the dungeon of his palace? Will he annul the Constitutional Court and rebuild it with “presidential” judges of his choice as new members? Will he accuse the judges who ruled in favor of the journalists’ release of being the conspirators of the terrorist organizations and foreign intelligence services Messrs. Dündar and Can “allegedly” work for? There are plenty of prosecutors and judges on trial for alleged links with a terrorist organization. But we have not yet had any evidence of terrorist judges having infiltrated the top court.
Mr. Erdoğan’s comments over a ruling from Turkey’s supreme court gives very useful hints as to what kind of a presidential system he desperately wants to install: Unity, not separation, of powers in the hands of one glorious, supreme leader who acts as the government, legislature and the judiciary – and the president. Such regimes are not called democracies regardless of whether the supreme leader is elected or simply a coup general who commands an army.
Sadly, in the president’s psyche there are the president’s loyalists and his (and his Islamist ideology’s) enemies only. That is not healthy. Not for himself nor the country he so passionately rules.