Scandalous return of Feb. 28

Abdülhamit Bilici
Abdülhamit Bilici


Date posted: March 7, 2014

ABDÜLHAMİT BİLİCİ

There were certainly regressions in the tutelary character of the regime in the last decade but we can hardly say we have managed to replace it with a democratic one. It is obvious that Turkey would head toward this position as it has distanced itself from democratic values and its European Union membership bid.

It was the joint success of a big coalition to thwart the tutelage. Abdullah Gül, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and many Justice and Development Party (AK Party) leaders had labored to make this happen but the social groups that lent support to the right policies had a share in this success as well. Liberals, social democrats, conservative intellectuals, the Hizmet movement, other religious groups, civil society organizations (CSOs), Turks, Kurds, Alevis and members of the judiciary such as prosecutor Zekeriya Öz, democrat members of the military such as Hilmi Özkök, democrat journalists such as Hasan Cemal, Ahmet Altan, Şahin Alpay, Mehmet Baransu and Alper Görmüş and figures such as Hakkari Chief of Police Tufan Ergüder, who resigned from office, saying, “I can’t bear this oppression,” were all members of this democratic coalition. If the bold members of the Constitutional Court had not opted to lend support to democracy in the face of threats from the tutelary structures, there wouldn’t have been any success to boast about. The democratic coalition made its presence felt in the referendum held on Sept. 12, 2010, with 58 percent “yes” votes.

Unfortunately, there was a slowdown in the democratic transformation process in connection with which Turkey was marketed as a model country both in the Muslim world and in the West. Then this process came to a complete halt. Today, we are sadly experiencing regression in many areas including foreign policy, democracy, rule of law and economy. But why? Did someone give us the evil eye? Or are external forces and the Hizmet movement to blame, as the embedded media suggest?

Reasonable and fair-minded people know how baseless these claims are. Perhaps, the “external forces” thesis might apply to the case of late Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan as he promoted anti-Western policies and sought to unify the Muslim world. Indeed, he never visited any Western capital during his term in office as prime minister. We tried to establish an international organization called the D-8. Therefore, it is quite understandable for external forces to oppose him. But Erdoğan was quick to announce that he had stripped off his National View (Milli Görüş) garb. He placed great emphasis on the EU bid. As chairman of the AK Party, he was received by US President George W. Bush at the Oval Office. He readily received the Courage to Care Award from the Jewish lobby and maintained normal relations with Israel until the 2010 Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that left eight Turks and one Turkish-American dead. Like the Arab media, the Western media lent support to Erdoğan. Even Erbakan and many neo-nationalist politicians accused him of being an agent of the West/Israel. In other words, the “foreign forces” thesis is not convincing.

Erdoğan thought he could use the Hizmet movement as a scapegoat for all unwanted developments by accusing it of trying to control Fenerbahçe or even preventing belly dancer Asena from being a jury member at a dance competition. However, as everyone knows, the Hizmet movement lent full support to the AK Party in connection with critical issues such as the lawsuits against Ergenekon — a clandestine organization nested within the state trying to overthrow or manipulate the democratically elected government — and the e-memorandum of April 27, 2007. The claim that the Hizmet movement was against the Oslo process and targeted the AK Party on Feb. 7, 2012 is an ill-intentioned lie. Why should the Hizmet movement want to overthrow Erdoğan after lending it full support until the last general election in June 2011 so that it could draft a civilian constitution up? This is a question no one can answer. The attitude adopted by the Zaman newspaper when the Oslo talks were leaked refutes this claim.

If the Hizmet movement was the only problem, those who support the AK Party both within and outside the country would applaud the recent developments in Turkey including the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), Internet and Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) laws and the interventions in the media. But no one, not Hasan Cemal, Taha Akyol, the EU, the US or opposition parties, is pleased with the current developments in Turkey. The Financial Times, which used to lend great support to the AK Party, ran a story on Feb. 27 titled “Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now the source of Turkey’s problems.” Let’s say this paper belongs to an external enemy. What can you say about the remarks of Felicity Party (SP) leader Mustafa Kamalak, who represents the National Vision movement and is a victim of the Feb. 28 postmodern coup, “The closure of prep schools is like an extension of Feb. 28.”

So what is the problem? While resigning from the AK Party, former Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin, a long-time confidant of Prime Minister Erdoğan and one of the founders of the AK Party, expressed his uneasiness over the domination of the party by a small oligarchic staff comprising politicians and bureaucrats, whose intentions are uncertain. His observation is important to finding clues to answer this question. However, the basic problem is the fact that we do not have a will-established democratic experience. In our country, which has been ruled by a military guardianship for a long time, neither the media nor the bureaucracy or political circles know what the limits of their boundaries in a normal democratic system are. Thus, even a democratically elected government is haunted by the tutelary spirit. And it does not face any difficulties finding media organizations and intellectuals who will support its actions. The following exemplary statement is taken from the AK Party’s defense in the closure case brought against the AK Party which currently suspends the rule of law and hurls gross insults at innocent people: “The accusations against us are nothing but notions such as ‘imperialism,’ ‘betrayal,’ ‘collaborators,’ ‘reactionaryism,’ ‘internal and external enemies’ and ‘political hegemony project’ which cannot be defined by laws and reflects the ideological stance of the prosecutor preparing the indictment.”

Source: Todays Zaman , March 7, 2014


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