Why did the Gülenists take down Baykal?
My recent article on who opposed the 2010-11 “tape operations” against Deniz Baykal, who was main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader at the time, and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, was based on a new prosecutor’s indictment. It drew attention to the fact that these operations were a project of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, and stressed that we should look at these incidents once again.
The facts that came to light in this indictment, dated Sept. 4, regarding the telephone tapping and image recording operations that targeted many people - including politicians, members of the judiciary, soldiers and bankers - make it necessary to discuss Turkey’s recent history with a new point of view.
One of the new questions we should be asking is: Why was Baykal targeted? And there is a lot of concrete information on this subject in the Sept. 4 indictment.
Looking for the answer, we first briefly need to remind ourselves of Turkey’s news agenda at the time. Starting from 2009, the government of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) started to talk about the need for a legal reform. The archives show that the government was planning to conduct a constitutional referendum to this end and started to put this plan into execution on March 2010.
The AK Party announced a constitutional amendment draft on March 22, 2010. After debates the official legislative proposal came to parliament on March 30. Discussions on the package in parliament’s Constitution Committee started immediately and it was passed by the committee on April 13. It was accepted at the General Assembly on May 6 and came into force after being approved by then President Abdullah Gül and was published in the Official Gazette on May 13.
Exactly 120 days later, on Sept. 12, 2010, the referendum was held. Turkey spent the summer of 2010 discussing the fundamental constitutional amendments changing the judiciary, in particular the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).
The 923-page indictment prepared by prosecutor Alpaslan Karabay describes a series of technical details about the background of the Baykal tape incident, which ultimately led to his resignation.
It shows that a Gülenist gang in the intelligence department of the police headquarters in Ankara started technical work in the operation that targeted Baykal on March 27, 2010. This work went through four stages and around one month later, on April 30, 2010, the targeted image was achieved.
The order of the incidents is like this: The constitutional changes proposal passed through the General Assembly on May 6, the tape came out on May 7, Baykal resigned on May 10, and the constitutional changes were published in the Official Gazette on May 13.
The indictment has for the first time brought into open the fact that the Gülenists pushed the button for the Baykal operation on March 27, just three days before the constitutional amendment proposal was sent to parliament.
We can see that the operation of finishing Baykal’s leadership of the CHP and the arrival of the AK Party’s constitutional package in parliament interlock “perfectly” in terms of timing.
The logical outcome from these data should be this: FETÖ - which saw the constitutional amendment as a vital goal in its bid to seize the judiciary, and which at that point was acting in perfect consensus with the AK Party - saw Baykal as one of the most important obstacles against it ahead of the pre-referendum debates due to take place in the summer of 2010.
The Gülenists apparently wanted to prevent strong opposition to the constitutional amendment, thus organized the “tape operation” in order to take down Baykal and push the CHP into disorder.
The operation reached its first goal. But it was probably a surprise to FETÖ that the CHP was able to choose its new leader through a wide consensus within a short period of time.