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07.02.1997

Accident or Assassination?

Accident or Assassination?  » Coup Conflict Between Refah and Opposing Islamists?  » Coup Threat Or Just A Warning?  » A Matter of Vision  » The Coup Primer  » The Refah Dilemma  » The Week in Perspective
Untitled 7 February, 1997, Turkish Probe issue 215, Copyright © Turkish Daily News
CONTENTS
  • Accident or Assassination?
  • Coup Conflict Between Refah and Opposing Islamists?
  • Coup Threat Or Just A Warning?
  • A Matter of Vision
  • The Coup Primer
  • The Refah Dilemma
  • The Week in Perspective
    The Esref Bitlis Plane Crash File:

    Accident or Assassination?


    By Hakan Aslaneli

    The General Commander of the Turkish Gendarmary Forces, General Esref Bitlis, lost his life four years ago on February 17, 1993 in a plane crash near Ankara.

    At the time, the Chief of Staff stated that the plane had gone down due to "sudden icing," and the possibility of sabotage was ruled out. But according to the Etimesgut Military Airport Weather Department records, the February 17, 1993 weather report does not mention any ice accumulation, and states: "Calm, windy, 1,500 meters visibility, snowy, low clouds affected. Cloud level 800 feet, peak 8,000 feet. The weather is completely overcast. The temperature is -4 degrees and the pressure is 1,018 milibars."

    Experts state that they do not allow training flights under these conditions, but that there is no problem for other flights. They think the B-200 type plane which the General was onboard could take off and land in even more difficult weather conditions.

    Nine o'clock is the hour for the start of the daily meteorological measurements in Turkey and the weather gets milder as the day goes on. Lt. Gen. Esref Bitlis's plane crashed at 12:24. The pilot of the plane was a VIP pilot and held a green card, which means that he was a very succesful and specialized pilot.

    Bitlis was on his way to Diyarbakir on February 17, 1993. It is a point of concern that while the Chief of Staff, Dogan Gures, and other commanders of the armed forces were attending a military exercise in Izmir, Bitlis, instead of participating in this, which would have been the usual procedure, set off for Diyarbakir. The fact that the General Commander of the Gendarmary was kept away from the exercise beside the general commanders of all the other armed forces is interpreted by some as indicating that Bitlis did not want to be side by side with Dogan Gures.

    The General did not fly with the plane he was to take when the pilot noticed that the dashboard in the cockpit was out of order. Clearance from the Chief of Staff to take a second plane was obtained immediately and thus the crew and the passengers boarded the fatal plane.

    Everything looked in proper order and nobody was curious about the broken dashboard of the original aircraft. The plane gained altitude without problems for a while until it was at 4,000 feet. But the noise which the staff at the airport heard two minutes after the take off indicates that the pilots had to make extra revs on the engines since they must have realized that they were not responding sufficiently to their attempts to accelarate, although no panic was indicated in the conversation between the pilots during this. Soon after though, the extra reving would fail and the plane could not gain any more altitude.Final Efforts of the Pilot

    The pilot then contacted the control tower and asked permission for an emergency landing. This could not be done at Guvercinlik Airport from where they left because the airport was not equipped with systems for such a landing. The pilot of the plane had to report within three minutes of take off to Esenboga Airport that the engines were working abnormally and attempted an emergency landing there.

    The VIP pilot directed the plane towards the airport, but his efforts would fail tragically: the plane crashed at 12:24.Chief of Staff too Quick to Rule out Sabotage

    The Chief of Staff made an immediate statement after the plane crash ruling out the possibility of sabotage in the accident and explained the cause of the plane crash as "ice accumulation."

    This statement came before the investigation on the accident and prejudged the conclusions of the investigation. In fact there are a number of reports by expert investigators, the conclusions of all of which are identical to the Chief of Staff's initial statement. Each report refers to the previous ones and all are signed by experts with academic titles.Cem Ersever and Esref Bitlis

    Major Cem Ersever was the head of Gendarmarie Intelligence (JITEM) during the office of General Bitlis. Ersever was alleged to have participated in obscure operations such as drug- trafficking in which former Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, who were later recruited to JITEM, were widely used. He was also alleged to be in contact with the PKK through the Syrian Intelligence Service, El Muhaberat, on the one hand, and the Special Forces of the USA in the region on the other.

    Perhaps due to his awareness of these dealings, Bitlis did not get on with Major Ersever and tried at every opportunity to force his resignation. There are rumors that Ersever was the man who conducted the sabotage of Bitlis' plane in February 1993.

    Ersever's resignation came in June 1994 and in a few months he became the victim of an "unresolved murder." The bodies of Cem Ersever and his close companions, PKK informer Mustafa Deniz and Nevval Boz were found on November 4, 1994 dumped at different entrances to Ankara. It was alleged in a Chief of Staff Intelligence report that Ersever and his friends were kidnapped on November 1 and tortured for three days at the Prime Ministry's shooting range before being killed. The Prime Minister of the time was Tansu Ciller.

    There is a serious suspicion that one of the reasons for Ersever's killing was to cover up the Bitlis assassination.

    However, although we accept the theory that Ersever was Bitlis' assassin, he was not acting on his behalf at the time and was under the command of the Chief of Staff.A Top General on the Bitlis Assassination

    An active army general who has considerable information about Bitlis investigated the issue and gave the following answers to the weekly Aydinlik's questions:

    Q1- Did General Esref Bitlis order a report about the illegal activities of Operation Provide Comfort (OPC) and their activities against Turkey?

    A1- He prepared such reeport and submitted it to the chief of staff.

    Q2- Did the commander of Jusmmat (US Special Forces), the American Major General, complain about Esref Bitlis to the Chief of Staff for collecting information about the OPC?

    A2- Yes, he did. Not only the Jusmmat Commander, the other officers in the OPC complained about him to Washington twice.

    Q3- Were there American special war expert officers in the Gendarmary Forces? Is it true that Bitlis dismissed these officers from commanding posts?

    A3- It is true. He did not only stop the ones in the Gendarmary forces, but also the CIA agents and the special war experts who were operating in the humanitarian organisations which were active in Northern Iraq and in the South East. All of their activities started to be controlled. Their entrance and exit to Northern Iraq from Silopi was prevented.

    It is Esref Pasha who captured the arms going to Barzani and Talabani in the containers under the name of food aid the first time. Those were captured from the PKK guerillas later. There were Armenians working in the OPC at the beginning. Esref Pasha demanded they leave. Esref Pasha gave information to Turgut Ozal about the developments. Dogan Gures has reports. He even told his concerns to the former president, Kenan Evren.

    Q4- If Gen. Bitlis were alive, would he be a candidate for the Chief of Staff post today?

    A5- Esref Pasha could be a candidate for the Chief of Staff post, but he would be derailed as was done to Muhittin Fusunoglu Pasha. Esref Pasha was a sworn anti-American. The Chief of Staff, General Dogan Gures, on the other hand, was an Americaphile.

    Q6- Is there a link between Ciller's special organization and the murder of General Esref Bitlis?

    A6- I cannot give a direct answer this question. Esref Pasha was against the USA and close to Europe. His murder can be America's business as well as of the domestic powers.

    It seems that an explaination from the Chief of General Staff of the time, Dogan Gures, is vital for the enlightening of the Bitlis investigation. Gures entered politics after his retirement and is now a parliamentary deputy of the Ciller-led True Path Party (DYP).

    The son of the late General, Tarik Bitlis, avoids speculation on his father's death.

    "If there was an assassination, I believe that the concerned authorities will act properly to resolve it," he says.Links of a Conspirative Chain

    One theory asserts that Bitlis' assassination was only a link in a chain of assassinations which began with the death of the late President Turgut Ozal. According to this theory, Ozal's timely death should also be treated as part of the conspiracy.

    Since Ozal's death, a chain of "unresolved murders" followed one another, such as the assassination of the Kurdish "godfathers," such as Behcet Canturk, Savas Buldan and Canturk's lawyer Yusuf Ekinci; the murder of Cem Ersever with two former JITEM officers, as mentioned above; the assassination of Turkish Intelligence (MIT) officer Tarik Umit who is alleged to have been investigating a Special Organization under the then Prime Minister Ciller's command; the murder of Mehmet Urhan, an associate of the then Prime Minister's husband, Ozer Ucuran Ciller, from the past when Ciller was at the head of Istanbul Bank; the murder of the "Ulkucu mafia" member Tevfik Agansoy together with two of Tansu Ciller's special protection officers in August 1996.

    The conspiracy theorists link most of these "unresolved murders" to each other as semi-official "operations" conducted by a special organization, recently named as the "state gang," headed by infamous ultranationalist militant Abdullah Catli, whose name has not fallen from the headlines since he died in "the holy Susurluk accident" on November 3, 1996.

    The first wave of murders since the death of the late President Turgut Ozal amounted to the elimination of the Kurdish mafia, who had been publicly accused by top officials of helping the PKK. This operation coincided with a hardline turn in the official policies towards the Kurdish question.

    Secondly, a conflict among the "hardliners" on the accomodation of the Operation Provide Comfort forces in the South East, and consequently on whether or not to accept the emergence of a Kurdish administration in Northern Iraq, as imposed by the US, should also be considered. General Bitlis was known not only as a succesful conductor of the counter-insurgency war against the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) in the South East but also as an anti-American commander who publicly opposed the projects for a Kurdish state in Northern Iraq. Whoever may be responsible for his death, it certainly led to the consolidation of the reign of the pro-American wing at the top of the state apparatus.

    If we are to link these to the other "mafioso" murders, and the murders of Cem Ersever and Tarik Umit listed above, we will obtain a picture of a pro-American gang embedded in Turkey's state apparatus, not only acting to realize an armed solution to the Kurdish question, but also falling in conflict with each other from time to time -- particularly as a result of their involvement in the underworld, such as drug trafficking, nuclear material smuggling and the arms trade. We thus keep our fingers crossed that the Susurluk investigation will reveal them all from very top to bottom, so that the Turkish public can begin a new, gangless future.


    Coup Conflict Between Refah and Opposing Islamists?


    By M. Akif Beki

    The possibility of a military coup has brought both mainstream Islamic movements of Turkey -- the moderate community led by Fethullah Gulen, and the senior partner of the government the Refah Party led by Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan -- face to face.

    Although the source of rifts between the two movements lies in their different strategies, their understanding of Islam have differentiated them since the outset.

    The religious movement, led by Fethullah Hodja that appears as a branch of the Nur (the Light) movement started by Said-i Nursi, represents a civic and moderate Islamism blended with Turkish nationalism. Fethullah Hodja has opened private schools within Turkey and abroad -- in particular in the Central Asian Turkic republics -- aiming to train a "Golden Age" for the future of the Turkish nation.

    Meanwhile, the Islamist Refah Party has become a political Islamic movement within the past quarter century, co-opting the Sufi -- mystical -- tradition of the Naksibendiyye order, which espouses Islamic brotherhood amongst all Muslim nations.

    Due to the possibility of a military intervention removing the Refah Party from power, the Islamist daily newspaper Zaman and STV, which belong to followers of Fethullah Hodja, have begun to openly criticize Refah, holding it responsible for any future coup d'etat.

    According to Fethullah Hodja's followers Erbakan has provoked secularists, particularly the Turkish armed forces, by taking radical steps ranging from trying to build mosques in Istanbul's Taksim Square and Cankaya of Ankara to attempting to lift the state prohibition on wearing headscarves in universities and state offices.

    The reaction of the Hodja's followers began after the Susurluk accident which revealed the existence of an ultranationalist gang within the state and linked Fethullah Hodja's name with the state gangs in a National Intelligence Organization (MIT) report.

    The Hodja has reacted strongly to recent press reports linking his name with the Susurluk gang, while criticizing Refah for not denying the allegations against his name.Resuscitation of the coup d'etat syndrome?

    An important dimension of the crisis is the fear of a military intervention, to which followers of the Hodja are even more sensitive, concerned for the possible persecution of the Islamist community such a coup might lead to as well as its effect on the activities of the Islamists in Turkey and abroad, particularly its educational establishments.

    This is why Zaman has opened fire on those countenancing the linking of Fethullah Hodja's name with the Susurluk gang nearly a week after allegations were televised by Kanal D.

    However, while accusing the prime minister of not denying the alleged link between Fethullah Hodja's name and the gangs, Zaman alleged that the initial list of the names involved in the gang, which was taken to the recent leaders' summit at the Presidential Palace, included only 58 people, and that Fethullah Hodja's name had been added to the list as part of a provocative plot which Zaman holds Erbakan responsible for.

    In the January 1 edition of Zaman, a full-page text written by Fethullah Hodja, including his responses to the accusations, was also published. Hodja emphasized in particular that he was upset about the negative behavior of those who were supposed to be loyal to him, mentioning in particular Erbakan, and the pro-Islamic daily Yeni Safak, which printed the allegations on its front page.

    In addition, while the front page of Zaman was devoted to this issue, there were several articles and columns inside the paper which mentioned a possible provocation scenario. In particular, an article entitled "they firstly blacked, then executed", recalled the 1960 coup which concluded with the execution of the Democrat Party leader Adnan Menderes, implying that Fethullah Hodja could meet a similar fate.

    A second page article also pointed out that while there was not any official reaction to the claims by several circles about preparations for a takeover by the Turkish armed forces, everyone had reacted to Fethullah Hodja when he warned the public on a possible military coup recently, and even the State Security Court had begun an investigation into him.

    Fethullah Hodja named the Islamists who did not defend him during this event as hypocrites, and thanked political leaders ranging from the Democratic Left Party (DSP) leader Bulent Ecevit to the main opposition Motherland Party (ANAP) leader, Mesut Yilmaz, for condemning anyone who related his name to the Susurluk gang.

    The Wednesday edition of Zaman newspaper has opened a long lasting debate among pro-Islamic circles which is heated up with the current coup fever.


    Coup Threat Or Just A Warning?


    By Ilnur Cevik

    In the past few weeks Ankara has been buzzing with gossip that the military is fed up with the Islamists and will stage a coup to put an end to the experiment of allowing the pro-Islamic Welfare Party (Refah) to come to power as the senior partner of a coalition government...

    Is there really a coup threat? The Turkish Probe discussed this with several knowledgeable sources and tried to get to the bottom of what really happened in the past few weeks and what the military really wants.

    The lower echelons of the Armed Forces have felt progressively more uneasy about the Islamists dominating the government and feel this is encouraging anti-secularist forces to dominate the scene...

    They feel the Islamists have been challenging the system by forcing the lifting of the ban on headscarves at universities and state offices. The latest move by Refah to change the work hours at state offices to fit the Ramadan fasting period reportedly irked the military who felt things were getting out of hand. Added to all this was the announcement by Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan that Refah would promote the construction ofmosques in the heart of Istanbul and in Ankara just across from the presidential palace.

    Another explosive issue was the sheep hides which were donated to the Aviation Institution after the holy sacrifice holidays. Refah wanted the monopoly of the Aviation Institution to collect the hides be lifted and allow all other charitable organizations to be allowed to collect sheepskins.

    The Turkish Probe learned that the lower-ranking officers felt Refah and the Islamists were going too far and that their actions amounted to a clear challenge to the secular system. Some were known to have sent letters to the commanders asking "What are you waiting for to stop the Islamists? Do they have to fly the green flags of Islam and replace our crescent and star before you act?" These officers felt Islamists had been going too far in various districts and told their superiors they could round them up in one night if necessary...

    The lower-ranking officers felt their commanders were being too soft on Refah and wanted action.

    The military commanders realized that one way of easing the tension was to show their subordinates that they were not just remaining idle. So the commanders held a meeting at the Golcuk naval base and discussed the current situation. This was designed to serve notice to Refah that the commanders were "unhappy" with the growing Islamist actions in the government while on the other hand appeasing their subordinates...

    The Turkish Probe learned that among the military ranks True Path Party (DYP) boss Tansu Ciller is the least popular. She is followed by Mesut Yilmaz, the leader of the main opposition Motherland Party (ANAP). On the other hand, Democratic Left Party (DSP) chief Bulent Ecevit is the most popular with the military. Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan is regarded as "harmless" and as a safety valve in keeping Refah under control.

    The incidents in the Sincan township near Ankara where fundamentalists used the Jerusalem Day commemoration ceremony to voice their ultra-Islamic views added to the anger among the military ranks. The commanders held a second meeting at the general staff headquarters while tanks were sent to Sincan for a show of force. This too was designed to put the lower-ranking officers at ease and defuse the tensions.

    Military officials told the Turkish Probe that the military has no intention of interfering with the democratic system and want the parliamentary democracy to sort out its problems and eliminate the Islamists through civilian methods.

    Thus, the military commanders reportedly are lobbying pressure groups such as universities, businessmen and even labor leaders like Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions (Turk-Is) chief Bayram Meral. They say the civilians should do their own housecleaning and should not expect the military to do this for them...


    A Matter of Vision


    By Rasit Gurdilek

    The events at Ankara's working class suburb of Sincan cleared many things in people's minds. First there was the weekend commemoration of the "Jerusalem Day", an Iran-promoted anti-Israeli event where Tehran's ambassador managed once again to enrage Turkey's secularist establishment by remarks interpreted as a call for the Islamic state and . Then on monday the televised scenes -- perhaps a thousand times for the benefit of the secularist public --of a fist smashing into the face of a female reporter and the hate-filled looks of the attacker who grabbed her by the hair and threw her on the ground. Then, of course, about 30 tanks and armored vehicles making a detour for a drive through the main street of the Islamist-governed avenue while on a routine "training exercise."

    First thing that emerged from all these was the shaken confidence in the credentials of the Islamist Welfare Party (Refah), the dominant partner in the ruling coalition, as an "Islamic Democrat" party fast moving to the center to fill the gaping vacuum left by the bickering center-right parties kept apart by the personal feud between their leaders.

    Secondly, the disquieting events exploded the myth which the Islamists have been trying to keep alive that the armed forces hierarchy did not have any qualms about the RP's rule and any claim to the contrary was ill-willed coup-mongering. Even before the Sincan events, the tempers within the barracks were already running short over the preceding Refah goodies. These includedcontroversial plans for the construction of a large mosque at Istanbul's Taksim square, a main site for the Republican Day celebrations and other events of secular significance as well as one in Ankara'sCankaya district, the symbol of modern Turkey harboring the Presidential palace, most of the Western embassies and the Constitutional court, the guardian of the state's secular system.

    President Suleyman Demirel made clear in a television interview Wednesday night that he did not expect a coup which would harm the armed forces themselves more than anybody else. But while dismissing any such plans on the part of the military, Demirel did not hide their apprehensions over "recent developments"and noted pointedly that a few more mosques or quarrels over the possession of the donated hides of sacrificial sheep -- an important source of income coveted by the Islamists -- would not contribute to Turkey's well being and stability.

    The president's remarks came as an indirect confirmation of reports that General Staff Chief Ismail Hakki Karadayi had made clear the military sentiments to him following a conspicuous gathering of top brass at the main naval base of Golcuk last month. A meeting between Demirel and Karadayi on Thursday was treated in the same light.

    Although neither Demirel nor Karadayi elaborated on the contents of the talks, a chief worry for the military looked to be the gradual but steady Islamization of the country under the Refah while the supposedly-secularist True Path Party (DYP) partners watched helplessly with their leader, Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller, depending on Islamist protection against threatened trial on corruption charges.

    While Erbakan has reluctantly undersigned the expulsion of Islamist officers from the ranks, and the armored display at Sincan prompted a flow of blandishments to the "heroic armed forces" from Refah leaders and the Islamist commentators, a chief worry of the secularist officer corps appears to be the problem of maintaining the rigid discipline over an Islamized 700,000-strong conscript army.

    The counsel given through suitable intermediaries to the leading politicians of the DYP to persuade their leader about ending the partnership with Refah seems to have failed to persuade Ciller who feels she needs the Islamist shield, at least until she is fully cleared by the parliament.

    Her decision to dissolve the partnership, depends largely on guarantees from her chief political enemy, the main opposition Motherland Party (ANAP) leader Mesut Yilmaz, that he would not pursue the corruption charges, something he can ill-afford after all the traded invective. Even if Yilmaz can provide the sought guarantees, as some analysts say he might be prepared to do for the sake of unseating the Islamists, Ciller is unlikely to stick out her neck.

    As the pressures build up for a secularist alliance to reclaim the political centre, bring down the Islamists from power and then confront them in early elections, the only method to accomplish that remains to be drawing an enough number of deputies from the DYP ranks.

    The first test for the stratagem is not far off. Within three weeks, the RP-DYP coalition will have to face four critical tests. The parliament vote on two more corruption charges that may sent Ciller to the Supreme Court, and two censure motions tabled by leftist parties on anti-secular activities which call for a vote of confidence.

    The growing dissent within the DYP to be dragged about by the Islamists, and the rebellion within Ciller's cabinet colleagues themselves, do not portend well for the embattled foreign minister.

    Since such a forced ouster will close the doors completely to a political comeback for the DYP leader after a reasonable time of recuperation, she might, after all, chose to discard her blinds and entrust herself to the short memory of the public.


    The Coup Primer


    By Hayri Birler

    Article 35 of the Turkish Armed Forces Internal Service Law (Law No. 211) says that it is the armed forces' duty "to protect the Turkish land and the Turkish Republic defined by the Constitution." In other words, in Turkey, the military's task is not limited to protecting the country's borders against an external threat. The military also has an open-ended duty to prevent threats which may be directed against the regime from within. In Turkey's recent political history, the armed forces intervened in the system three times, in 1960, 1971 and 1980, in varying forms and doses, using different methods, in the context of the above-mentioned description of its duties.

    The memoirs of the architects of these interventions, published after so many years, give a clear idea of how these three interventions were planned, which political developments exactly caused the military to actually reach the point of staging a coup, what was done after the decision was taken to intervene, and how the developments were steered in a certain direction.

    The military reach the conclusion that the time has come for them to fulfill the duty given to them by Law No. 211 when those in power step beyond the boundaries of legitimacy, when there is widespread acts of violence aimed at toppling the country's democratic system, and when public order is seriously upset due to these actions. If the general uneasiness felt in the armed forces is not found justified or shared by the entire commanding-level officers, then the "chain of command" gets bypassed. As in 1960, the officials who feel upset, warn the administration with a letter under the leadership of a general who think like them.

    Prior to the 1960 coup, the letter the ground forces commander of the time, Gen. Cemal Gursel, sent to the prime minister of the time, Adnan Menderes, failed to have the desired effect, and Gursel was sent into retirement. Then the nucleus of the movement, called the "junta of colonels", planned a direct intervention, and the coup was realized overnight.

    The formation of groups within the armed forces continued after the coup. Officers -- including generals -- with rightist or leftist views, formed juntas of their own, finding it difficult to have a common denominator in reacting to the events taking place in the country. In 1971, the "commanding level" officers managed it at the last minute. An ultimatum was given to the president of the time, Cevdet Sunay, a man with a military background, on the reforms they wanted the government to introduce. The prime minister of the time, Suleyman Demirel, resigned. And the military did not feel the need to take power directly into their hands. A government of national unity was formed with the participation of the parties represented in Parliament, as well as technocrats from outside Parliament.

    Nine years later, in 1980, the military, assessing the "internal threat," found before them a similar situation once again. In the face of the country's accumulated problems awaiting a solution, the escalation of violence, and the political parties' inability to reach a compromise between them, the military commanders came together once again, drafted a "letter of warning" and presented it to the president of the time, Fahri Koruturk. As in 1971, the letter failed to bring about the resignation of the government, and the military decided to take the power into their own hands. When the conditions in the country reached the point where neither local nor international public opinion would object to a military coup, the army seized power throughout the country according to the "chain of command."

    Judging by these three examples, the armed forces stage coups only after passing through certain stages:

  • The uneasiness felt in the face of the incidents and developments taking place, is voiced on every occasion.
  • If these warnings prove ineffective, a letter of warning is presented to the president, urging the authorities to take due measures.
  • If the letter of warning brings about the desired developments and the government resigns, the military does not seize power directly. Instead, a "national unity government," consisting of parliamentarians is formed -- a government steered by the armed forces from behind the scene. The military ensure that the desired solutions are introduced by the government.
  • If the letter of warning fails to have the desired effect, a decision is taken for a direct intervention. Preparations begin. Developments are steered in such a way that the internal and international public will find the coup justified. To say the least, by not moving to prevent even the "preventable" negative incidents, they wait for things to go too far.
  • And then one night comes the coup. The direct intervention always takes place late on a Thursday night. By declaring a curfew, the usurpers get through Friday and reach the weekend whenofficial departments would be closed anyway. During these three days they gauge reaction to the coup. This particular timing prevents people from rushing to banks to withdraw their deposits and paralyzing the economy all of a sudden. Monday comes and the public see that the intervention has been a success, that the military are in control of the situation, and that things have been put on the track. The public accepts the coup, and the job is over.
  • To satisfy international opinion, the military administration declares Turkey will respect all the existing agreements, and will remain loyal to the pacts of which it is a member. The military administration also declares that once the necessary arrangements are made, political activity would be permitted, that free elections would be held, and a return to democracy would take place.

    The Refah Dilemma


    By Dogu Ergil

    Turkey has the necessary wealth that can be trnsformed into capital. It does not matter much now it is accumulated, so fait has. But only a protion of it has been invested as the second wave of modernizing/industrializing nations just as brasil, argentina or south korea and taiwa. Moreover, Turkey hasapolitical history which could lead it to a full fledged democracy through its multi-party politics. Despite these advantages Turkey has missed the second wave of modernization due to bad magagement, butressed by a stiff and top-heavy central government.

    Look at today's agenda in Tursih politics, debate over buliding a mosque in taksim, Istanbul; liberalizing the animal skins which are sacrified at the festivities. Besides these pseude agendas, Refah's nascent paramilitary Budyguards which raise the suspicion of becaming a privatete/party militia in the making, gashioned after the nazi S.A's raised a lot of anxiety. Finally the Sincan(a municipality in Ankara, the mayor of which led an Iran type or anti secular demonstration in teh presence of teh Iranian ambassador) scandal that exfosed poisned hatereds to democratic and secular ideals which is seen by many people as the last defence line of modernity. The Sincan case was not the only of its kind, dut it was too close home, too much and seemed to be teh last straw that broke teh back of the camel.

    At normal times none of these particualars may be viewed to be sustantiative. but hley are mounting up and are indicative of the enormous tension between two world views thatmore and more confronteach other at teh societal and (less) teh governmental levels.

    Being hostage of Refah, DYP chief of staff wants to stay in teh coalition, because out of government, they know that it will be hard to preserve teh party intact. With mounting pressure from the public and the army, the DYP administrators maybe looking for a way out of teh coalition with Refah, but definitely not out of the government, they are Quite sure that if they leave the government without guaranteeing another partnership in the pollowing coalition government, Refah and Anap may coalesce to from of revenge and bury msr. Ciller with the party's hope of preserving its competetive edge.

    An Anap and Refah coalition may most probably send mrs. Ciller to teh supreme cout (to inquire into teh sources of her questionable wealth). Wiht a lame duck as admiral, DYP ma never be a sizeable fleet anymore. Congnitant of this faot, the DYP chief of staff want to preserve teh coalition government unless they ar epressed by their insensible partner t an unbearable positon to accept principles and practices that lie counter to teh basic values of the republic.

    DYP's first instict is to reduce the radicalism of Refah to an aceptable degree and to ward off poignent criticism that can shake teh fountadions of teh coalitin government as weul as the republican regime. DYP's second move may be to switch partnrs and drop Refah if it can secure enough guarantees to sageguard its leader from the law's reach. DYP chieftaings prefer teh first option. but Refah is an odd patatoe that is getting hottr every passing month to handle.

    Wh, is Refah getting more radical? is radicalism Refah's sui generis character that was not visible enough at teh time of its ascelation to power. Now that it is entrenched in the central government and is wielding pover at a strategic portion of the local government, improvements in teh economic secene seems ot have encouraged Refah to act more independently. The party wants t ocapitalize on these marginal but much awaited for improvements.

    DYP is or has become only a walking stick for Refah. Refah is an advocate of "clean administration"in fact, th party has based its reason d' etre on "cleannness" DYP is a handicap for Refah's image. Their coexistence leads Refal to cover up all the mismeeds that has emerged after the susurluk accidents and leads up to members of the DYP. Refah has to stay clear of this dirty stick if it has to increase its electoral support and its morel credibility.

    Furthermore, Refah has come to realize that the existing parties have lost tehir representative capacities. Indeed they have everone knows that following artificial coalition governments will have no lasting successes, simply because they will not have teh courage to undertake structural changes. Without a coherent and all encompassing transformation project, new governments can only carry the ccountry into a new election.

    Lacking recognizable successses, all of th existing political parties exercise tehir political power though the state apparatus. This indirect influence yields two results; creative policies od not emerge and find their way into practice. Teh "state" remains to be stronger than government (s) can be neither popular, nor responsible. It sees the coiety as a shapeless crowd to be shaped and led in acordance with the "official" view. What is mor confusingis that the offical view" changes over time and looses its legitimacy as well as crediblitly.

    The failure to grasp and conciliate different Turkeys and ot develop holicies ot reconcile them inevtably leads to indealogical monopolies. That is the "missing ling" between state an society in Turkey which teh political parties could not bridge. Refah is the last unfortunatc case. This farty has unfortunately prover that its understanding of democracy is rather instrumental. It wants to impose its won will or life-style on teh rest of the coiety and megan to implement this initiative by using teh state apparatus after it came to power. Ofcurs it started to collide with teh established satet or teh establishment in the state and that part o fteh coiety which indendifies itself with as modern, secular and democratic.

    In opposition, Refah was purely a popular movement. But as a member of te ruling coalitino it has positioned itself between the state and society, _t is the closest party to teh society-that part o fthe coiety which feels excluded. Unrewared and suppressed-which support the party's traditional vaues in which whey see aplance for themselves. Thus, Refah is teh strongest candidate to respahe the state according to popular expectations and to widen its participatory base for te underdog. But so far it did not have teh cutting edge to do it.

    Like all political parties in power, Refah has to deliver. That is why it wants a firmer grip onthe state apparatus. The party's plan o placing its supporters in the bureaucracy has been extensive.

    But this where teh Refah's dilemma stars; the more it relies on teh people (its conservative, to some extent radical supporters(, the more it alienates teh establishment. The more it relies on the state, teh mor it alienates its fainthful and ardent followers.

    There is no indication yet how Refah will resolve this dilemma or willit ever be able to. What is mor importnt i hat Refah's dilemma is Turkey's dilemma; how to reconcile at least two Turkeys that are navigating at a collision course;


    The Week in Perspective


    January 30
  • The United States on Wednesday says it opposes European efforts to impose new conditions, such as human rights progress, on Turkey's bid for membership of the European Union.
  • German politicians, Karsten Voigt formthe opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Karl Lamers of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) accuse Turkey of "blackmail" for saying it might veto nato expansion if it is left out of EU expansion.
  • The U.S. State Department issues 1996 human rights report and says the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) wascontinuing to massacre people but maintains Turkey has not continued the positive steps it had taken in 1995 for enhanced human rights.
  • Parliament sets up a subcommittee to investigate alleged irregularities during a vote on whethertoinvestigateDeputy PrimeMinister and True Path Party (DYP) leader Tansu Ciller on charges of corruption in the state-owned tourism agency TURBAN.
  • Ankara expresses its concern to Athens about a recent spate of attacks on mosques and oldmoslemtombsontheislandsof Rhodes and Istankoy (Kos).
  • SheikOsmanSerajAldin,a leaderoftheinfluential Nakshibendi sect,died of natural causes attheInternational Hospital in Istanbul at the age of 105.
  • TurkeyagreestoarequestbyPalestinianandIsraeli authorities to send observers to join the peace monitoring force in Hebron.January 31
  • Pro-Islamic Welfare Party (RP) General-Secretary Oguzhan Asilturk has sayshis party is determined to build a mosque in Taksim, Istanbul and Cankaya, Ankara.
  • Turkey warns Greece once again about activities on disputed islets in the Aegean and arming some of its islands in contravention of international agreements.
  • President Suleyman Demirel assures leaders of the People's Democracy Party (HADEP) who visit him that the state is not aiming to harm their pr-Kurdish party.
  • A controversial report submitted by the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD) to Parliament recommending sweeping legal and constitutional changes draws criticism from TUSIAD' former advisory council chief, Rahmi Koc, who is the chairman of Koc Holding.
  • Turkey's defence minister Turhan Tayan says the Atrush refugee camp in norther Iraq would be closed because it shelters rebel PKK militants.February 1
  • United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan tells Greek Cypriot leader Glafcos Clerides in Davos Switzerland where they met in the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meetings that the world body is categorically against "all tension-building arms purchases" on the island.
  • Turks begin a campaign to plunge their houses into darkness to throw some light on a scandal involving government links with the criminal underworld.February 2
  • Chechen President-elect Arslan Mashkadov tells the Anatolian news agency he has invited Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan to attend his inauguration ceremony to be held on Feb. 10. and calls on Turkey to recognize the independence of Chechnya.
  • The United Nations Force in Cyprus says it will make a formal complaint to the Greek Cypriot government over the serious harassment of its commander and a group of friends at the hands of Greek Cypriot demonstrators.February 3
  • Controversial remarks by Iranian ambassador Muhammed Bagheri during a "Jerusalem Night" organized two days previously on Friday by the fundamentalist mayor of Ankara's Sincan causes political storm. Bagheri is called to the foreign ministry to receive verbal protest.
  • A fanatic Muslim attacks female TV reporter Isin Gurel in Sincan.
  • Dutch Foreign Minister and EU term president Hans van Mierlo saysthe time had come for the European Union to come clean with Turkey and tell it why it did not pass requirements for EU membership.
  • Greek Cyprus has assured the United States that no Greek warplanes will be deployed for the next 13 months to a new air base under construction on the Mediterranean island, the State Department says.
  • Nihat Uygun, A local official from the ultranationalist Nationalist Movement Party is murdered in Istanbul.
  • HADEP gives information on more than a 140 mystery killings to the parliamentary "Susurluk Commission" which is probing alleged links between security officials and far-right hit men.February 4
  • Tensions in Sincan are heightened when the military engages in a "show of force" by sending an armored unit through the county ostensibly on their way to a military exercise. "on exercise."
  • Justice Minister Sevket Kazan says that both the Welfare Party (RP) and the prosecutor's office are carrying out investigations into the "Jerusalem Night" incident in Sincan.
  • Iran has objected to a protest by Turkey over the participation of Iran's ambassador in anti-Israel protests in Turkey, the official Iranian news agency IRNA says
  • The Ankara State Security Court (DGM) sentences 22 students to jail terms of up to 20 years for being activists of the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP).February 5
  • Parliament once again rejects a motion calling for a parliamentary inquiry into Deputy Prime minister andDYP leader Tansu Ciller on charges of corruption in the state-owned tourism agency TURBAN.
  • NATO secretary Javier Solana says only hours before he is due in Turkey for official talks that he does not expect Turkey to block the alliance's expansion into Eastern Europe in order to gain closer links with the EU.
  • Greek Cypriot President Clerides denies that he made any promises to the United States that no Greek warplanes will be deployed for the next 13 months on the island.

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