The making of a state crisis: When will President Gül act?

The making of a state crisis: When will President Gül act?

Recent Turkish history has introduced important concepts to the political sciences with diverse definitions of undemocratic interventions in politics and elected governments. The coup d’état carried out by former general Kenan Evren in 1980 is described as a “full coup”, while the one staged in 1997, known as the Feb. 28 process, as a “half coup” or “postmodern coup.”

The memorandum posted on the official web site of the military by former Chief of General
Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt that urged the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government not to elect Abdullah Gül as president because of his headscarf-wearing spouse is defined as an “e-coup,” while the current corruption and graft probe is introduced as a “mini coup” (by Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan.)

Besides, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his senior government officials continue to blame “international powers” as plotters against his government and “a growing Turkey,” at the
expense of repeating the same song they played during the Gezi Parkı protests.

Whatever terminology government officials use or on whatever secret plots they try to put the blame, Erdoğan’s government cannot distract public and media attention from corruption and bribery claims. As a citizen of this country, I observe that corruption claims constitute a good part of ordinary man’s daily conversations and that the society is getting more politicized over this issue.

Media reports on such issues do also create more awareness. The detention of a woman in Manisa last weekend after she protested against Erdoğan with a shoe box was one of those stories that fueled people’s anger. It’s no surprise that the shoe boxes will symbolize this very period and will be frequently utilized by opposition parties during the pre-election campaign.

Erdoğan’s government, however, instead of seriously probing corruption claims, has decided to fight against the Hizmet Movement and pro-movement bureaucrats. It vowed to break what it calls “judicial tutelage” through re-structuring the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), curbing the authorities of the Council of State (Turkey’s administrative court), removing hundreds of prosecutors-judges and police chiefs from their positions and thus clearing the parallel state establishment within the state.

The current picture is not promising for Turkey in 2014: The judiciary and the police department have fallen into two rival camps. The government is planning to overhaul the entire judicial system once again in a revanchist mood which would not bring a more functional and just judicial mechanism. It risks to be resulted in removal of check and balances over the government and legislative, fueling concerns of a more authoritarian rule.

The division in the police department is certainly more dangerous regarding how it plays a crucial role in protecting life and property security of the people. The situation is not much different at the intelligence organization. Police and intelligence from different camps are spying against each other, chasing and wiretapping each other and not hesitating to leak some confidential documents to the media.

Furthermore, a prominent advisor of Prime Minister, Yalçın Akdoğan, hinted that the Hizmet Movement has plotted against the Turkish army without specifically mentioning the Ergenekon or Balyoz cases.
Although he tried to correct his statement, it’s known that Necdet Özel, chief of general staff, brought the issue to the agenda of last week’s National Security Council (MGK) meeting with hints the army’s expectation of retrial of such cases.

The confession of this plot should have caused a major disappointment and anger in the military. Akdoğan’s irresponsible statement has added yet another chain in the uneasiness within the state as the army has also been drawn into this chaotic atmosphere.

Simplistically, this is the summary of making of a state crisis at the hands of the AKP government. Erdoğan is risking not only political and economic stability of the country by his efforts to protect his allegedly corrupt fellows but also is dragging the Turkish state into a dysfunctional mess. This is time for President Abdullah Gül, who is only watching developments so far, as the head of the nation, to step in and assign the State Audit Board (DDK) to study whether claims of a parallel state or gangs within the state are accurate. The problem is about the functions of the state and it’s Gül’s constitutional duty to deal with this growing crisis.