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December 4, 2008

A CounterPunch Special Report

Turkey's Sinister Blend of Watergate and the Dreyfus Affair

Inside the Ergenekon Case


Quote:Turkey is facing a new round in her relationship with democracy. Opponents of the Islamic governing party, known as the AK for the initials of its Turkish name, are being accused being members of a secret state gang called Ergenekon. The trials in this case, which are expected to last for years, began last month. The sinister undertow portends the likelihood that Turkey is about to experience its own version of a 'colored revolution'.

A few weeks ago in Diyarbak?r, in the Kurdish region of Turkey, a prominent Kurdish intellectual said: ‘Maybe I should appear as a commentator on the Ergenekon case’. Putting on a sour, hesitant face she carried on: ‘Since my husband’s assassin is still unknown I can be counted as a victim of deep state like many other Kurdish and Turkish leftists.’ The group of well-known intellectuals from both ethnicities gathered round the table were silent; nobody knew how to respond. Those who had for years been vocal about any political issue were now, like many of their peers, speechless.

That is why one should be warned about the Ergenekon case. Since the Ergenekon case represents the advanced level of classical Turkish chaos, this is not a good time to start learning about Turkey unless you are experienced in this ‘lonely and beloved country’. Of course, it makes the story easier if you are promoting a certain political engagement such as Kemalism or political Islam, but if you want to maintain a leftist stance on the Ergenekon case, there starts the hesitation, silence and confusion. And unfortunately this messy, pervasive state of mind has arisen at one of the most important cross-roads of not only Turkish political history but also the Middle East.

Ergenekon is the name of a legendary valley in Turkish mythology. According to the legend, the valley in Central Asia was home to the ancient Turks, until a grey wolf led them out onto the road to the eventual nationhood. Since last January this piece of mythology has become extremely vital for Turkey. Ergenekon is now the name of an alleged ultra-nationalist, ultra-Kemalist gang, which has been operating since 1999 as a part of the ‘deep state’. Their alleged aim is to organize coups against the AKP government. Like coups, the term ‘deep state’ has been and still is a very popular term in Turkish, used to describe renegade members of the security and military forces said to act outside the law in what they judge to be Turkey’s best interests. The term has a very long history, which goes back to the Ottoman period, but the contemporary version generally begins with the Cold War era. Under the name of ‘counter-guerrilla’, it was formed to combat the rising leftist movement and later on the Kurdish uprising in South Eastern Turkey. The secret entity represents illegal state violence, but also drug dealing and all kinds of smuggling, first in the Kurdish region then in whole country. The growing illegal, invisible and untouchable body has been the source of state terror against Kurdish and Turkish politicians, intellectuals, trade unions, leftist student organizations.

Although the whole country became aware of the concept, especially during the coup years in the 1980s, the deep state was revealed beyond any doubt in 1996 when a car accident happened in Susurluk, a town in the Marmara region. In the car were a senior police chief, a prominent right-wing politician and a wanted assassin who was especially famous for killing or ordering the killings of Kurdish leaders and intellectuals. Although the accident revealed the relations between government and assassins, the case opened against the ‘Susurluk gang’ was obscured and blocked by the concept of ‘state secrets’. Soon after the interrogations began, Mehmet Aar, then minister of the interior, was linked to the case because of his alleged relations with mafia bosses and ultra-nationalist organizations. His defense was built on the concept of ‘state secret’, which was powerful enough to legitimize any illegal act. The accusations were paralysed with the help of the term and the case never progressed. But the Turkish left, that has been politically dispersed since 1980, for the first time came together en masse to protest. The name of the civilian action was ‘Darkness for 1 minute’. We switched our lights on and off for 1 minute at 9 o’clock every night. It was an easy and legally costless action, so as a result the mass got bigger and even included those who live in the apartments of the National Intelligence Service. For a couple of months people blew whistles, called the residents of their districts for action and chanted ‘One minute darkness for daylight!’, a reference to the idea of bringing the criminals into daylight. It never happened. The case followed a spiral-like route and every time the prosecutions ended up with either the sacred term of ‘state secret’ or the immunity of the MPs. The only positive outcome of the case was that society was mobilized more than it ever had been since the coup.

Among the sulking faces were the Islamists. The Felicity Party did not admire the mobilization at all. The leader of the party, Necmettin Erbakan, created a sarcastic metaphor for the activists and the action. He said ‘They are doing glu glu dance’ which practically meant nothing but he was referring to the African tribes and their native dance. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then Mayor of Istanbul, was one of the leading figures in the Felicity Party. As far as the Turkish media knows he was silent about the deep state and the Susurluk gang. There was another silent name, Mümtazer Türköne. He was the consultant of Prime Minister Tansu Çiller, during the Susurluk case. His fame comes from making her say ‘The one who shoots or is shot by a bullet for this country is a hero’ about the Susurluk case. This motto was created not only to defend the Susurluk gang members and eventually the counter-guerrilla but also to exacerbate the racist, ultra-nationalist attack on Kurdish society. This name and this little story does not mean anything to you at the moment but just keep him in mind for a couple of paragraphs. At some point this name and the political route that it followed will show how the political compass of Turkey broke down during recent years. This name also will function as a beacon to find our way through the mess of the Ergenekon case.

Turkey couldn’t judge the Susurluk gang but public opinion was convinced there were links between the mafia, ultra-nationalist organizations and the state. Radikal, then a very new, leftist newspaper made its debut publishing striking stories about Susurluk. They now and then gave two-page spreads to maps showing the links between illegal organizations and political figures dating back to the coup years. But even this committed newspaper lost track when things got so complicated that no map was sufficient to show all the links. The complexity of the issue created a pollution of information, and gradually those following the case gave up. The Susurluk case left behind ‘1 Minute darkness’ activists who eventually became a loose civil action group which, among many other oppositional actions, organized the anti-war campaign that stopped Turkey joining the invasion of Iraq.

The ‘oppressed’ becomes the ‘oppressor’

To cut a long story short, in 2001 after the Virtue Party, descendant of the Felicity Party, was closed down because of its anti-secular actions, the young, dynamic politicians in the party started a new movement and soon they established a new party, the AKP. Their leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan was held as a political prisoner for reading a poem which runs: ‘Minarets are our spears, mosques are our helmets’. He was a young, fledgling leader when he was imprisoned but when he stepped out his prime ministry was almost guaranteed along with his image of being an ‘oppressed political leader’, an image still in use even in his second term in office. He was the handsome face of moderate Islam, an oppressed soul and, as an owner of fast-growing companies, a capitalist. These virtues made him the tailor-made leader for new neo-liberal party with conservative topping.

On coming to power the AKP began one of the most important eras of Turkish political history. Their civil discourse was pleasing to liberal intellectual circles. The party fitted in with the Greater Middle East Project long envisioned by the White House. The big corporate fat cats were quite happy with this business-oriented government. The supposedly long-oppressed conservative Islamists were looking to the future with hope. Fetullah Gülen’s community, the widest religion-based economic and political network in Turkey, constituted just after the coup in 1980, supported the new government. Seeing the support of liberal intellectuals and up to a certain degree leftists, the European Union was reassured about the party. Since the party was talking about pluralism and the ‘Kurdish question’ openly, Kurdish politicians were fine with the AKP as well. For a while, an absolute and uniformly annoying ‘stanno tutti bene’ situation was in place.

From the beginning of their first term the AKP, starting from their leader to the lowest-ranking party member, created and shared a mythology of being oppressed. The history of ‘oppressed Muslims’ goes back to the establishment of the republic. In the common description, the Kemalist elite, centering power in a secular, unitary state, oppressed the Muslim community. Sociologists defined the AKP government as ‘the margins’ taking over the ‘centre’ or the triumph of the ‘tradition’ against the ‘modernist state’. Since the intellectual staff of the political movement wasn’t capable of theorizing and to a certain degree polishing the reign of the AKP, the party gathered an intellectual support group consisting of former leftists who have converted to neo-liberalism. The group legitimized the Islamist AKP basically by saying that the long wait of the oppressed people of Turkey is over, as they are now taking the country from the old guard of the Kemalist elite. The AKP leaders, members and supporters were represented as the ‘light bulbs’ of freedom and ‘real democracy’. The same liberal intellectual circles also all but became the guarantors of democracy and the regime, especially for the European Union.

On the other hand, for ordinary people these complicated democracy theory lessons were not suitable. Another strategy was used for that level. A variety of rumours was spread around. ‘Before Atatürk we read and understood the Quran but his legacy made us less Muslim’, ‘Before the AKP nobody thought of poverty, but now its civil extensions, the charities, are pouring money on the poor’, ‘Our girls will go to universities with their headscarves’. . . And there were more. Anatolians never thought about the meaning of the Quran, the AKP has been charged by German courts with committing fraud over international Islamic charity organizations, and the girls never made it to the universities. But the rumours fulfilled their duty and among the public the moral triumph belonged to the AKP.

Each and every time the party was going through a crisis of public trust, there came an incident of ‘oppression of Islam and democracy’. While these two concepts stuck to each other in a very dangerous way, the tension between the party and the army was the issue causing the most agitation. A mythology was created: the grass roots of the AKP were resisting the military, civil bureaucracy and the elite that together have long been exploiting the religious beliefs of the country. The masses who are intimidated by the AKP’s rise and the possibility of the second man of the party, Abdullah Gül, becoming president went onto the streets for ‘flag demonstrations’. The demonstrations were against anti-secularism first, but soon turned into ultra-nationalist meetings. Shortly after these famous meetings came the elections, and the AKP won a second term after getting 47 per cent of the votes. The Prime Minister said in his victory speech that ‘the ones who didn’t vote for them are the colours of this country’. It was obvious that for the prime minister the ones who didn’t support him were only the garnish of the country, and the AKP would be served as the only main course.

In its second term the AKP was even more reckless. Not only the personal political style of the prime minister became more ruthless, but also financially the party became more fearless. The alleged corruptions of the AKP mayors and the cabinet were growing. But then came the great rescuer of the AKP — the case for the party’s closure. It was vital PR for the party and it did its job. Since it is anti-democratic to close down a party, even the most committed critics of the party wrote and spoke out against the closure. Plus, in the political and intellectual arena it was now an ideological sin to criticize the AKP. An atmosphere was created in which every criticism of the AKP made you seem like those who are trying to block the democratic process by means of the closure case. The AKP was once again the ‘great oppressed’ in spite of its long list of human rights violations, fierce neo-liberal policies and anti-secular moves at every administrative level. It was now once again a sin to ‘oppress’ the oppressor.

A political tool or the end of deep state: Ergenekon

It all started in last January when a large cache of hand grenades was found in a district on the margins of Istanbul. Soon these hand grenades were linked with the attack against Cumhuriyet, the secularist, Kemalist newspaper and gradually to the attack against the Council of State. These attacks were carried out by a group of people who described themselves as ‘very religious’. The reason for their attacks was that the newspaper was against the headscarf and the State of Council delivered a verdict against the lifting of the ban on headscarves in government buildings. The grenades were also linked to retired generals who became committed defenders of secularism and Kemalism in their civilian life by founding associations. These associations became even more famous through their involvement in the flag demonstrations. So the main idea was that there was a gang making provocations against the symbols of Kemalist state, actually in order to agitate people against the government. A 2,500-page indictment was handed to the court on July 14, 2008. 86 people, editors of newspapers, retired generals, political party leaders, directors of TV channels were accused during the Susurluk Case. Most of these people were known as ‘nationalists’ who still religiously believed in the secular nation-state and saw the AKP as a major danger to a unitary, secular Turkey. Some of them were famous paramilitary figures who have long been wanted for questioning.

The name of the case, Ergenekon, came from a document found in a former TV host’s home. TV host Tuncay Güney once made programs for an Islamic TV channel and at the moment he is a rabbi in Canada. Now and then we see him saying obscure things live on air from Canada. The alleged gang’s name was written on a piece of paper at his place, according to the indictment.

The timing of Ergenekon overlapped with the case for closing down the AKP. A considerable number of people came up with the argument that this case was a political tool against the nationalist-Kemalist camp—an eye-for-an-eye kind of move. The way the suspects were prosecuted exacerbated this argument. Although his latest works were calling ultra-nationalists to action, the well-known leading columnist of Cumhuriyet Ilhan Selçuk was for years a highly praised and respected leftist columnist. Selçuk, 84, was taken from his home at 4 o’clock in the morning as the alleged leader of the gang. Mustafa Balbay, the representative of the same newspaper in Ankara, was also taken into custody as though he was a fugitive. The arrests were like a ‘lesson’ to those who take an oppositional stand against the government. On the other hand, among the names there were suspects of political assassinations. So it was not easy to categorize the case purely as an attack on opponents of the government. Once you talked about the case negatively it was guaranteed that your name would appear in pro-AKP newspapers as an ‘Ergenekon-lover’, ‘coup-wanter’, ‘military-toy-boy’.

The newspaper, which was confiscated by the State and then sold extremely cheaply to a group whose CEO is the prime minister’s son-in-law, has been and still is the most enthusiastic celebrator of the case. Among many TV channels, radio stations and newspapers Yeniafak, shamelessly close to the government, and Zaman which is a trademark of Fetullah followers, represented the case as an iron fist against those who want a coup in Turkey. The new newspaper, Taraf ,was the most vocal one about the case. Its columnists were former leftists who have now become liberals. One of its editors is famous for articles supporting the attack on Afghanistan and the Iraq invasion. She was shown as the ‘voice of the White House in Turkey’. The financial sources of the paper are still being discussed. Among many arguments the most interesting one is that followers of Fetullah Gülen finance the paper.

With the zeal of converts, all the ‘retired leftist’ columnists baptised the AKP as the most courageous government of all, and the Ergenekon case as the end to all our problems of democracy. Through the media the case became a witch-hunt. Anything that hinders the AKP’s program was probably linked to Ergenekon gang. I remember the fierce oppression that the unions went through on Mayday in Istanbul. One day prior to the demonstrations the prime minister was sharp in his words, saying that there would be no holds barred against those who wanted to demonstrate in Taksim, the centre of Istanbul. ‘It would be a disaster if the feet became the head’, he said. It was a symbolic act for the workers to show that they don’t recognize the limits of the 1980 coup that banned them from the city centre on Maydays. But what happened was that the police even dropped a bomb in the emergency department of a hospital, where demonstrators were trying to hide from the tear gas spreading almost across the whole European side of the city. The following day, press releases and pro-AKP intellectuals were commenting on probable links between trade unions and the Ergenekon gang. Yet another interesting detail was that in those mainstream American newspapers which are more than eager to put Turkey on their front page when it comes to lifting of the headscarf ban or any other moderate Islam issue, there was not even one sentence about the Mayday violence which turned Istanbul into an invaded city. Instead, national and international media quoted the prime minister saying that ‘I am the prosecutor of Ergenekon case’. This exciting tone made some of the analysts think that the case was not intended to do away with the deep state, but to take it over from the established forces. Long before this, it had been reported that the police forces had gradually started to become Fetullah followers. But now it was time for a final move to take over the deep state from secular, nation-state defenders.

Another argument was that the army and the AKP made a secret agreement just before the Ergenekon case when the prime minister and the chief general met in Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, and never revealed what they talked about. According to some sources, it is a ‘cleaning operation’ for the army and the deep state or a ‘recreation project’ for both the AKP and the deep state.

‘A piece of paper’: Questions are forbidden!

As the prosecutions for the case carried on, even the best analysts became mute. First of all the 2,500-page indictment was full of recordings of personal telephone calls that have nothing to do with the case. All these recordings were leaked to the press long before the case officially opened. For instance, among these recordings were Ilhan Selçuk’s conversations about Fashion TV or gossip about his colleagues. It was as if the aim was to degrade the dignity of symbolic figures in the Kemalist camp, rather than prosecuting them. Those taken by the police were freed within a couple of days, but the news about their personal telephone conversations kept appearing in pro-AKP newspapers and web-sites—to the extent that erotic exchanges between a woman columnist and a party leader, or their comments on an episode of ‘Sex and The City’, were read widely. The telephone recordings have become the most important issue on country’s agenda. Recordings of prominent figures in the Kemalist elite were put on YouTube or other web-sites. Each and every time we heard recordings of a Republican Party (CHP) member, a Supreme Court judge or a university dean criticizing the AKP or making a joke about the prophet. Prominent figures in society one by one told the press that they are oppressed by recording-phobia. Their main concern was that these recordings were done by the secret police in support of the AKP. When the press asked questions about the issue the Minister of Transport commented: ‘If you don’t commit any crimes, why should you worry about anyone listening to your telephone calls!’ And somehow this whole issue became a joke thanks to Turkey’s very special habit and talent of normalizing anything. Soon we all were joking about the ticky tacky sounds we hear during our telephone calls. This outrageous revelation was overshadowed by the celebrities taken into custody as part of the Ergenekon case.

Even though there was a serious part of the Ergenekon indictment, the not-so-serious, red-carpet part was much more visible for sure. A gay singer famous for his ‘snake-dance’, a very respected middle aged actor and a list of celebrities are counted as alleged torturers or gang members of the Ergenekon gang. Their names were on a piece of paper in one of the retired generals’ home like many other evidences that the indictment stands on. But you should be careful when saying such things. Since there was a witch-hunt, including the trustworthiness of the evidence nothing could be questioned about the Ergenekon case. During this ongoing witch-hunt, it is not enough to stop criticizing the AKP in fear of being counted as Ergenekon defender. You should not ask questions about the Ergenekon case either. Questions such as:

If this case is intended to question the deep state or at least a part of this illegal entity, how come the indictment has no relation to the Kurdish issue? Since the deep state committed its recent crimes against Kurdish politicians, businessmen and intellectuals, there must have been something about them in the indictment. So, where are they?

If this case is against the deep state that organizes coups and if the government is so eager to judge coup attempts, why don’t they start with the visible one done in 1980 rather than running after invisible ones?

If the government is so against anti-democratic interventions and eager to judge the generals who have such intentions, why didn’t they change the 15th amendment of the constitution that gives judicial immunity to the 1980s coup generals?

These are just a couple of examples of possible sinful questions about the indictment.

The indictment was initially supposed to shed light on every political assassination committed in Turkey starting from Musa Anter, a larger-than-life Kurdish writer; Ugur Mumcu, a journalist who was killed with a car-bomb for finding alleged links between the deep state and the Kurdish separatist movement; Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist who wrote and spoke in favour of recognition of the Armenian community in Turkey, and was killed by an ultra-nationalist teenager linked to the police forces. This promising indictment gradually became more and more circus-like with the addition of new prosecutions. This circus-like trend overlapped with the Supreme Court’s decision about the case against the AKP, which was in favor of the party. Some argued that after the party guaranteed that it wasn’t going to be closed, the Ergenekon case lost its importance for the government.

One of the latest prosecutions is against a famous transvestite, Sisi, who happened to be doing a documentary called ‘The Women of the Republic’, probably a Kemalist product representing the role models of Kemalism in country’s early period. The other prosecution is against the well-known actress Nurseli Idiz, whose latest work involved her disguising herself as Kemal Atatürk. The media follow-up of the prosecutions was even more awkward then the people themselves. The liberal columnists who are over-rating the case, especially the female ones, made fun of these two, commenting on how they looked, what they wore, how they loved to be taken by the police etc. The following week, Sisi was a guest on the TV show of the most famous pop star in Turkey, and Idiz was seen on a daytime women’s show. Both of them talked about the psychological torture that they went through, and the only democratic support they got was the ‘Oh my god’s that they received from the TV audience. While Sisi was talking about psychological torture, she said it was up to European standards—and she was not being ironic at all.

Most of the people taken into police custody were not accused of anything, and were only made to wait for at least three days at the police office to be questioned about the alleged gang. But you cannot ask if it was necessary to take people into custody to ask a couple of questions. The reason is not only the witch-hunt that might then catch up with you; there are also serious names among the accused. For instance, the police chief who started the operation against the alleged Ergenekon gang in the first place. The reason for his prosecution was that they found a piece of paper in his home showing links between Ergenekon members. His defence was that it was normal and that he was the one working on the case. Such contradictory, almost silly details of the indictment make it very difficult to believe that it is as serious as the deep state itself. And one might think that as a threatened writer in Turkey, since I am one of the potential targets of such a gang, I have every right to question the seriousness of such a case. But no, you cannot.

Little boxes of mind games!

Now it is time to remember that name: Mümtazer Türköne. Normally he would be a normal character in the story of a Third World country where a man makes his inadequate young wife an MP in the governing party and himself a columnist in the pro-government media. But no, the story of this name tells a lot about the recent history of my country. In the 70s Türköne was a young academic, known as the up-and-coming ideologue of the ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves. The Grey Wolves were used by the paramilitary forces against leftist students and often armed to kill them. In 80s he was accused of extremist ultra-nationalist actions and demands were made for him to be sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. During the 1990s he was the right hand of Prime Minister Tansu Çiller, who exacerbated the ultra-nationalist wave created by the civil war between Kurdish separatists and the Turkish army. Türköne is famous for making Tansu Çiller say: ‘The one who shoots a bullet or is shot by a bullet for this country is a hero.’

This motto was created just after the Susurluk accident and was used to legitimize the deep state and members of gangs applying illegal state violence. During the 90s, at some point, this man for all seasons must have seen the trend and understood that it was time to change trains. At the moment he is a columnist for Zaman, the newspaper founded and directed by Fetullah followers. His former student, now wife, Özlem Türköne, is the youngest AKP MP in the parliament. As one of the most hardworking and devoted ideologues of the AKP and moderate Islam, Türköne now never mentions his old days when he was very, very close to the deep state. Now he is one the ‘democrat intellectuals’ with other neo-liberal writers, most of them converted from Maoism or other sects of the former left. As right-wing intellectuals they are hoisting the standard of being democrats, and as Islamic conservatives they are defending the Ergenekon case against people like me. Me?

A friend from the socialist left stopped me on the street the other day. His voice was anxious: “You know what, maybe you should not write about Ergenekon for a while”. He paused and sulked: “I think the way you do on this issue but you know… They made two little boxes: a Kemalist box and a liberal one. Even if you don’t fit to either of the boxes they break your arms or legs and make you fit one of them at the end. They don’t open a third box for you. This is a dangerous political climate and we are all going to be wasted in the end”.

He is right. If you ask questions about the indictment, or even if you express your concern about the seriousness of the case, there you go into the Kemalist box. If you clap your hands whenever you hear the name of the Ergenekon case, then you can be considered a democrat and can inhabit the same box as those I mentioned above. In that box the concept of democracy is reduced to freedom of faith, and its links to social justice or equality have been cut mercilessly. That is why in Turkey at the moment, if you are coming from the left, in order to be recognized as ‘not a fascist’ you are obliged to bow your head before right-wing perceptions of democracy. Even though it was the left that has been the ultimate victim of the deep state, they are for the time being the ones accused of being the deep state itself. This discourse or political climate has such a strong character that even the most intelligent and experienced spin doctors on the left have been stammering since last January about the Ergenekon case. Meanwhile the right-wing democrats, the liberals, are making noise saying that this time the gang was caught before it managed to carry out the coup. Thank god, the AKP government at the last minute busted them in the very act!

This reduction of politics to barren dualities didn’t actually start with the Ergenekon case; on the contrary, it had already been creating an intellectual industry with interesting products since the political polarization deepened with the start of the AKP’s second term. On almost every news channel there are talk-shows featuring a pro-AKP liberal democrat and an anti-AKP democrat. Since their controversies are the product on sale, these programs are visually exaggerated as well. In one of them, before the show begins they show two tigers attacking each other and in another program one, side has a black, the other a white background. The AKP, beyond its other achievements, gave Turkey this amazing present: intellectual and political discussions are now made in little boxes between black-and-white tigers!

The unwanted intervener: the Left!

This barren intellectual climate is dominated by those figures who very much resemble their peers in Georgia, Ukraine and Yugoslavia. Like those colour revolutions, stamped with the words ‘made in USA’, the chosen political leader is praised by the New World Order’s Wizard of Oz, Richard Holbrooke. Like Saakashvili of Georgia, Prime Minister Erdogan is a good friend of Holbrooke, and like the Orange Revolution of Ukraine, the ideological transformation of the intelligentsia towards liberalism is directed by US-approved, freedom-fighter NGOs. Those who don’t want to be ridden by this wave are classed as counter-revolutionaries or just Kemalists, which basically means fascist. Even if you have proven your ideological trustworthiness before history, for instance by being tortured or executed by the coup, you still might not be saved from being counted as a coup-lover. Taraf, the very young newspaper set up just before the Ergenekon case, and which became a committed supporter of the case, made its debut by branding three very young revolutionaries—Deniz Gezmis, Yusuf Aslan and Huseyin Inan, executed in 1972 by an earlier coup—as xenophobic and Kemalist. The last words of these 20-something people were ‘Long live the brotherhood of Kurdish and Turkish peoples!’, but it was passé to defend victims of the former coups. Now it was this new coup that we were supposed to concentrate on! The newspaper not only attacked respected and beloved figures of the left, but also tried to make the whole leftist tradition worthless in a blink of an eye.

From what I have read about colour-coded revolutions, this is what you go through when they decide to make one in your country. Lots of ideological confusion is spread, the concept of democracy is reduced to oranges or tulips, and when you try to defend some basic values like equality or secularism, you become a scapegoat if not a fascist guardian of the old regime. The difference is that this time the so-called revolution is taking place not in Europe but in the Middle East, and for the Middle East. When the revolution is completed probably the old guards of the Kemalist regime and the Cold War generals left over from the Cold War will be gone, but Turkey will also be a Middle Eastern country more than ever before. When that time arrives, the liberal intellectuals probably won’t apologize for their ‘misunderstandings’ like their colour revolutionary buddies in other countries.

These are the reasons why the left has felt hesitant to intervene in the case as the natural victim of the deep state. Finally Ufuk Uras, an independent MP of the socialist left, demanded in parliament the establishment of a research commission on the coups and coup attempts. His demand is supported by the DTP, a Kurdish party. ‘Let the coups be judged and the attempted coups be revealed initiative’, of which I am part, began in the third week of September.

For the sake of legitimacy, they invited a couple of liberal intellectuals and even AKP supporters for the initiative’s opening press conference. And Uras made a declaration, saying that although he sought support among AKP members, none of them signed the demand for research commission. The left is trying to appear as an intervener in the Ergenekon case—albeit with hesitant baby steps. Although they are the ones who must be the most vocal, because of the long story told above, they just murmur at the moment. Because they know, like my friend in Diyarbak?r, that their sacrifices are not enough to secure an intervening position in this case. To be right, you must be a liberal.

Me? I am just reading more and more about colour revolutions, which make me feel less lonely.

Ece Temelkuran is the most-read female political columnist in Turkey, writing regularly for Milliyet, with a well deserved reputation for fearlessness and verve. She also hosts a widely view political show in Turkish tv. Her latest book, The Deep Mountain, based on interviews with Armenians in Armenia, France and the U.S. and published in Istanbul in May 2008, is currently being translated into English. She has published widely and won numerous awards for her work, including the Pen for Peace Award, and Turkish Journalist of the Year. She is the author of several books, including, “What Is There For Me To Say!" on the hunger strikes by political prisoners in Turkey, and “We are Making A Revolution Here Senorita!" on the politics and every-day life in Chavez’s Venezuela. She can be reached at
Turkey seems to be a fascinating test-case of Deep Politics - the Turkish network makes Italy's P2 look like the local branch of the Women's Institute :-

at last - no need to be embarrased at dinner parties by your ignorance of the Ergenekon affair with this handy cut-out & keep org chart

Updates & articles here :-

Interesting back-grounder from '98 ( although written from a Kurdish persepctive - the PKK being not unimplicated in similar activities ) :