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Stirring the cauldron is child’s play in Turkey

Turkey’s "post-modern civil war" continues unabated. This time a document allegedly signed by a military officer has stirred the cauldron, pitting the military against the government again. The document Ğ whose authenticity is still being questioned - was published in daily Taraf, a newspaper that is building a reputation for sensational political revelations that keep the public occupied for weeks on end.

This document, said to have been drawn up by an officer in the General Staff’s office, reveals a blueprint for a conspiracy from within the military aimed at discrediting the pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party, or AKP, in power, as well as the "Fetullah Group," whose leader in the United States, Fetullah Gülen, is considered by hard-line secularists in this country as their archenemy.

Authentic or not, news of the document was enough to send Prime Minister Erdoğan reeling with anger and lambasting those who are targeting his party in this way. The AKP wants prosecutors to act on the news in Taraf and apprehend the culprits and punish them.

What has added credence to the document’s authenticity for the AKP is that it was found among papers seized from a defendant in the famous Ergenekon case. How the document came to be in the hands of this defendant, and why it was subsequently leaked to the press, rather than being acted on by the legal authorities is not clear.

Conspiracy theories abound on this score also. One says that the prosecutor did not understand the seriousness of this document. Another says that some pro-Islamic people in the prosecutor’s office, or the police force, wanted to intentionally create a crisis between the government and the military.

If this is true, it means there are people on both sides of the divide in this post-modern civil war who are prepared to create a crisis in order to further their aims. The military has of course vehemently denied that such a document was prepared in the General Staff’s Office within the chain of command.

Military prosecutors are now investigating whether there are those in GHQ who acted on their own initiatives and prepared an outline for a conspiracy to discredit the government by unlawful means.

We still await the outcome of this investigation. Gen. Başbuğ, the chief of the General Staff, has promised publicly that if it were established that this document was prepared by people attached to his office, those responsible will receive severe penalties.

Messy politics
But what adds to the muddle is the fact that it does not matter at this stage whether the document is authentic or not. If it is, this means there are still minds in the military who feel that they can get away with such plans after all that has happened in Turkey over these past few years.

If not, on the other hand, it means that there are people out there who are prepared to go to these lengths to fabricate documents in order to stir domestic trouble in Turkey. Either way there is a criminal attempt whose perpetrators must be revealed.

What makes the whole thing more interesting is that this is all happening against the backdrop of relatively good ties between the military and the government at the present time. Some analysts maintain that this is a bother for hardliners on both sides of the secularist-Islamist divide in Turkey.

Another glaring inconsistency has to do with Prime Minister Erdoğan’s reaction to the initial report in daily Taraf. This reaction showed he was immediately convinced about the authenticity of the document the paper reported on.

In other words, he chose not to say something cautious and responsible like, "This is just a press report at this stage. We are investigating the matter together with the military and will let you know of the outcome."

This is the same Erdoğan, however, that immediately chews the head of journalists and calls on boycotting media organs that correctly report on corruption cases that may or may not have connections with the AKP.

The bottom line appears to be that the political situation in Turkey, which is messy and confusing enough as it is, is set to get messier and even more confusing in the coming days and weeks, since there are clearly those who are prepared to stir the cauldron in this way.

Given such a divided society, a gullible public and highly touchy political interest in this country, their job is mere child’s play of course.
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