A slippery slope for Turkey

A slippery slope for Turkey

An Istanbul prosecutor has applied to the Turkish Justice Ministry yesterday to ask for parliamentary permission to lift the immunity of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in order to open an investigation against him because of “attempting to influence the fair trial process.”

According to semi-official Anatolia news agency, Ali İşgören, the prosecutor of the Silivri district of Istanbul, thinks that when Kılıçdaroğlu criticized the court cases in Silivri Prison (which he called a “concentration camp”), because of being under the government’s pressure he was actually trying to put the court under pressure himself. Kılıçdaroğlu said those words after visiting two CHP deputy-elects, namely journalist Mustafa Balbay and surgeon Mehmet Haberal, who are under arrest for three years now with accusations of joining a conspiracy to overthrow the government – the acclaimed Ergenekon case, as publicly known.

The case will most probably be put down by Parliament with probably the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) votes in order to avoid further embarrassment, but it shows the degree of power struggle in which the judiciary is becoming a part in Ankara.

The government perhaps used to enjoy the courage of the prosecutors when their cases helped the government to enjoy more power, but nowadays it started to become rather a pain in the neck.
Kılıçdaroğlu is not the first case of this kind. For example, there is no one to believe that many members of the government would be really sorry to see the former Chief of General Staff İlker Başbuğ on trial, but not as arrested as government sources underline in conversations strictly set as background.

As the opposition fails to perform a real alternative to the government, the power struggle in Ankara has the tendency to take place within the supporters of the government. That includes religious-based social groupings that have alleged contacts within the police and the judiciary and financial interest groups seeking more benefit from economic atmosphere under the political power they favor.
Unfortunately 2012 is not likely to be the best year for further growth. The crisis in Europe and the Arab Spring, which damaged Turkey’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy, and trade opening to its south via Syria and Iraq puts the Turkish Lira under more pressure against the U.S. dollar; the hidden devaluation of the lira versus the dollar has already neared a worrying 20 percent with no net rise in exports.

More worrying is the state of the Kurdish problem as the intelligence in Ankara shows that the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is getting prepared in its bases in the post-U.S. withdrawal shocked Iraq to launch a new campaign of attacks around the Novruz holiday in March, when Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan will have to face it with an army that is not at its highest morale and a police force with its lack of experience in the mountains of the rural Southeast. He might need a strong motive to shake them up again, and that might be in the form of tougher measures that may further push Turkey on the slippery slope of 2012.

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