Dr. Yavuz is an associate professor at the University of Utah. Dr. Özcan is a senior researcher at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) and a lecturer at the TOBB University of Economics and Technology in Ankara.1
Turkish democracy continues to fluctuate between contending poles. This includes conflict between republicanism and democracy, majoritarian and consensual democracy, French and American versions of secularism, and civic and ethnic nationalism.2 The conflict is over not only the principles of the Turkish Republic, but also two competing definitions of nation, state, secularism and democracy. Indeed, this conflict of political norms, values and symbols has the potential to stop the consolidation of Turkish democracy.
Although there is a powerful class dimension to the current crisis, the politics of lifestyle (or cultural confrontation) has become the main axis of the conflict; and this, in turn, prevents the analysis of intraclass conflict within each cultural sector of society. Even though the Islamic movement under the political leadership of the Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi, Justice and Development party (AKP), presents itself as the champion of the poor and needy, its leadership shares more with the secular bourgeoisie’s pattern of consumerism.3
The main problem in Turkey is the radical polarization of society, which is an outcome of Turkey’s political ethos of creating a secular and national society through the means of the state. This ethos was established over the last century, and any potential drift towards a more religious state (or society) causes waves of concern throughout the secular establishment. The presidential election process once more has revealed these deep-seated fears and ethno-religious cleavages. One may call the secular establishment’s fears exaggerated; however, the AKP government must take them seriously and deal with them. If the Turkish experience of democratic evolution into a moderate Islamic movement fails, it will be a setback for modern Islamic movements in the whole Middle East region. Moreover, Turkish experiments in secularism, democracy, nation building and the transformation of Islamic movements are becoming globalized.4
Thus, the case of Turkey is very significant; Europe and the United States view it as the model Muslim country, where the separation of mosque and state goes hand-in-hand with secular Islam.5 Turkey is supposed to represent a bastion of democracy and the potential for the coexistence of secular and religious values in the Middle East. To continue to be rejected by major European players such as France and Germany will not help the cause of Turkish democracy but feed into the hands of more radical religious and nationalistic players, who will see this as another example of Western bias against the Turks. At the same time, Western military interference in the region has also had a negative effect on democracy in Turkey. The U.S. occupation of Iraq since 2003 has ostensibly aimed at creating a new wave of democratization in the Middle East. The occupation, however, not only planted the seeds of a genocidal civil war in Iraq, but also weakened the consolidation of Turkish democracy by providing a security shield for PKK activities in Northern Iraq. As PKK attacks have increased, so has the role of the military in the political sphere, along with the sweeping new anti-terror laws.
This paper seeks to examine the sociopolitical causes, actors and consequences of the April 2007 political crisis and its impact on the July 2007 national election results in Turkey. The actors in the current crisis are the AKP leadership, an assertive secular sector of civil society that organized a series of Republic Meetings, a secularist judiciary, and the guardians of the Kemalist system — the military. There are a number of complex causes of the current crisis. We would like to rank them according to their significance. Although the crisis erupted during the presidential election in April 2007, we treat the “nomination and election” process as the site of a power showdown between two diametric call different visions of what Turkey was and should become. There are three important causes of this sudden eruption. The first is a conflict between the AKP and the Kemalist sector over the meaning and role of such foundational principles as secularism and nationalism. The Kemalists regard secularism and a homogeneous ethno nationalism as the cardinal principles of Turkish modernization and national identity. Thus, almost all criticism of the Kemalist version of secularism and nationalism are treated as “hostile voices” of religious fanaticism (irtica) or Kurdish separatism. Two opposing views on secularism and nationalism shape the confrontation over the role of Islam in politics and the approaches to the Kurdish problem.
The second source of the current crisis is a double fear inside the Turkish military. The military is afraid that the emergence of an independent Kurdish state that encompasses the oil-rich region of Kirkuk in Iraq would undermine national unity and the territorial integrity of Turkey. The military thinks that the AKP government is either not aware of the long-term threat or wants to solve the Kurdish issue so as to transform the regime (nation-state) in Turkey.
The military also fears losing its autonomy over recruitment, promotion and budget, in addition to being penetrated by ideological divisions through the Copenhagen criteria, which are required for membership.6 Moreover, the military is wary of attempts to curtail the social and economic privileges its members have enjoyed for decades.
With the appointment of Yasar Büyükanit as the chief of the General Staff, the military has become more assertive in protecting its privileges and political role. Finally, the independence and assertiveness of some Islamic groups, especially the Fethullah Gülen community, within the bureaucracy and business is another major source of fear among secularists. The crisis emerged at the end of the seven-year term of President Sezer. According to the Kemalist circles, Sezer has been the main obstacle to the Islamization of the state, whereas the AKP leadership regards Sezer as the main obstacle to the appointment of key bureaucrats, the decentralization of power, and the further democratization and liberalization of the system. Many Kemalists feared that the nomination of Abdullah Gül to the presidency would lead to the Islamization of the state through recruitment of Islamic-oriented bureaucrats into the higher echelons of the state.
AKP DEMOCRACY: MAJORITARIAN AND LEADERBASED
The AKP introduced revolutionary legal changes, creating more transparency and the rule of law. However, many of these changes have not been implemented, and the party failed to adequately expand political space and democratize the state structure. Erdogan’s leadership style within the party became a model for the governance of the state. He made himself the supreme leader and prevented the emergence of a second man by appointing “loyal” followers as the deputy chairmen of the AKP. This, in effect, prevented the institutionalization of the party. Criticism has been expressed of his autocratic style;7 however, this is a common problem for the Turkish party structure. Not only Erdogan, but most Turkish party leaders tend to behave as the supreme leader.
With little consultation inside or outside his party, in spring 2007, Prime Minister Erdogan, as the leader of the AKP, singlehandedly nominated Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül to become the next president of the country, 24 hours before voting was to take place in Parliament. The secularists, the generals, the universities and the courts mobilized to stop the process. When the center-right parties (DYP, the True Path party of Mehmet Agar and ANAP, the Motherland party of Erkan Mumcu) and the secular leftist opposition party (CHP: The Republican People’s party of Deniz Baykal) boycotted the poll for president on April 26, the generals issued a powerful statement on the official website of the Turkish Armed Forces on April 27 that threatened to overthrow the government if necessary to protect the secular nature of the Republic:8
The problem that [has] emerged in the presidential election process is focused on arguments over secularism. Turkish armed forces maintain their sound determination to carry out their duties stemming from laws to protect the unchangeable characteristics of the Republic of Turkey. It has been observed that some circles have been carrying out endless efforts to disturb fundamental values of the Republic of Turkey, especially secularism, and have increased their efforts recently. Those activities include requests for redefinition of fundamental values of the Republic and attempts to organize alternative celebrations instead of our national festivals symbolizing the unity and solidarity of our nation. Those who carry out the mentioned activities, which turned into an open challenge against the state, do not refrain from exploiting holy religious feelings of our people, and they try to hide their real goals under the guise of religion.…Those who are opposed to the Great Leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s understanding ‘How happy is the one who says I am a Turk,’ are enemies of the Republic of Turkey and will remain so. The Turkish Armed Forces maintain their sound determination to carry out their duties stemming from laws to protect the unchangeable characteristics of the Republic of Turkey. Their loyalty to this determination is absolute.
The main opposition party took the first poll to the Constitutional Court on April 28. The Constitutional Court, under the influence of the April 27 military statement and the major mass rallies in Ankara and Istanbul, annulled Parliament’s vote for Gül on the technical grounds that it lacked a two-thirds majority for a quorum. There was no real precedent that a majority of three-fourths of the MPs had to be in Parliament. Erdogan called the Court’s decision “a bullet fired at the heart of democracy.” In the face of such opposition, Gül withdrew his candidacy; Erdogan called for early elections and proposed a number of constitutional changes intended to prepare the ground for the election of the president through direct popular vote. These changes have further deepened the political crisis in Turkey and have the potential to create a series of constitutional crises as well after the July 22, 2007, national elections. Under the proposed constitutional changes, future presidents will be elected for a five-year term, renewable for another five, a change from the current single seven-year term. The proposal also reduces the tenure of Parliament to four years and the quorum from 367 to 184. Parliament passed the constitutional changes, and President Sezer vetoed the package on May 25, 2007, for a number of reasons. When Parliament voted for the package the second time, President Sezer sent it out for a referendum on a proposed amendment to elect the president by popular vote and also applied to the Constitutional Court to annul the legislation. Meanwhile, the CHP on June 3, 2007, petitioned the Constitutional Court to cancel the reform package on the grounds that Parliament was violating its own bylaws. The Court ruled against the application of the CHP and Sezer and opened the way for a referendum that is expected to take place in October 2007.
The main impetus behind the crisis was the Kemalist establishment’s animus toward the AKP and Erdogan’s style of managing the presidential election. They accused Erdogan of confusing the AKP parliamentary group and the synergetic nature of Turkish society. He was accused of behaving autocratically as the leader of the AKP and the government. For example, his party made a number of legal changes, with the support of the CHP, to make it difficult for Kurdish politicians to run as independent candidates in the upcoming elections. Thus, one may raise a number of questions about both the AKP’s and CHP’s democratic credentials. As the leader of Turkish politics, Kemalist critics felt he has made a number of mistakes.
They felt that the AKP has not tried to democratize the state structure and create new “bridges” to diverse sectors of the society. It rather has stressed the “bonding” nature of communitarian politics, with a tight circle of advisors such as Ahmet Davutoglu, Ömer Dinçer, Akif Beki, Yalcin Akdogan and Ömer Celik.9
Erdogan may have overplayed his hand in nominating to the presidency his foreign minister, Gül, who stemmed from the National Outlook Movement of Erbakan.10 He ignored the secularist/Kemalist resistance and the significance of the presidency for the Kemalist establishment, i.e., its function in maintaining the “purity of the regime.” For the secularist establishment and civil society, the governing party might be allowed to have Islamic roots, as is the case of the AKP government, and govern the country under the watchful eyes of the president and the military. For the Kemalist elite, however, the presidency is not only “the house of Atatürk,” but also the ultimate protector of their version of the secular character of the Turkish state. Thus, an attempt by Erdogan to control the presidency is seen as upsetting the checks and balances of the state and an attempt to change its secular character. In response, a number of civil-society organizations joined forces and organized mass rallies, known as “cumhuriyet mitingleri” (republican meetings) in Ankara, Istanbul, Manisa, Canakkale, Izmir and Samsun.
These rallies, which gathered over a million people, smashed the delicate equilibrium between the Kemalist military, the AKP government and diverse sectors of society.
The protesters were mobilized because they believe the following: (1) there is an Islamic threat to their secular lifestyle; (2) the AKP government is too pro-Kurdish and is seeking to change the founding principles of the republic to accommodate Kurdish political demands; and (3) the government is disloyal to Turkish identity and interests and is a puppet of global forces. In short, the protesters regard the AKP government as an “existential threat” to the Kemalist legacy of the nation-state structure.
The mass rallies reflect the lack of compromise on how to co-exist with “new actors and voices” in the public spaces.
The pragmatic constellation of neo-liberal economic policies of Özal with the Islamic movement has been undermining the old social landscape and class dynamics and created new opportunity spaces for marginalized groups. The Anatolian bourgeoisie used the opportunity spaces of the 1990s to insert its interests against the dominant class alliances between the metropolitan bourgeoisie (TÜSIAD) and the secular military establishment. Indeed, after the 2002 elections, TÜSIAD adopted an anti-military position and stressed “good governance and transparency” over the secularism of the military. This social transformation has resulted in the political shift of power from secular to Islamic parties and the moderate AKP. However, the AKP’s concept of politics remained limited to the allocation of state resources, providing an institutional framework for the functioning of neo-liberal economic policies.
The four major mass rallies of early 2007 played an important role in the mobilization of major sectors of Turkish society. Although these rallies were all organized by retired military officers, illiberal Kemalist associations and secular women’s groups, the majority of the protesters were the new middle class, who responded to perceived threats to their lifestyle. This new middle class is very different from the traditional merchant class, which is more conservative and usually votes for the center-right parties.11 The new middle class has emerged out of the service economy; it consists of self-employed lawyers, engineers, doctors and professionals in computers, banking and insurance. They share three common characteristics: First, they are the best educated among their peers and well-connected with the outside world. Second, they stress individualism and personal self-realization. Finally, they stress formality and the rule of law rather than the rule of ethnic, tribal or religion-based solidarity networks. The new middle class feels insecure about the orientation of the country under an Islamist party — albeit a moderate one — such as the AKP.12 On the basis of interviews with several participants in Ankara and Istanbul, we have observed that they stress merit over religious solidarity in social mobility. There is a powerful fear shared by the demonstrators that the modern lifestyle is threatened. They especially refer to the new criterion for promotion and social mobility. For instance, Aydin, a school teacher from Cine, told us:
I was principal of a high school. When the AKP came to power, they removed me from the post of principal to teacher and appointed a teacher who had only three months experience in teaching and is an ex-staff at the Directorate of Religious Affairs. Under the old system, in order to be a principal you were supposed to work 5 years as teacher, pass two exams on administrative regulations, and also participate in two summer orientation meetings. The AKP changed this established rigor to staff schools with its own sympathizers who have Islamic inclinations instead.
Although the Council of State (Danistay) has ruled against the change of the regulation, Celik, the minister of education, who has a number of articles about the Nur movement, filled almost all administrative positions with the followers of the Gülen community.
They stress the long-term implications of conservative AKP policies that seek to Islamicize the society incrementally.
Insecurity is therefore the glue unifying the demonstrators. They are nervous that AKP policies are transforming society and the state at the same time.
This is the first time in Turkish history that civil society has taken to the streets in such numbers to defend its lifestyle and the secular character of the state and society. They found confidence in the sheer size of the protests. The common slogans were: “Turkey is secular and will remain secular!” “No pass to headscarf at the Cankaya Palace.” “We are all Turks!” “Neither seriat (Islamic Law) nor military coup.” “Look at us! Count! How many are we here?”
The demonstrators included many from the most modern, secular, and pro-Western sectors of the country. However, there are a number of contradictions reflected in these four demonstrations. Participants share a modern lifestyle and individual autonomy, but they are also often quite anti-EU and anti-American. According to a number of surveys, the elite of the AKP and Islamic communities, on the other hand, are very pro-EU, but their social base remains anti-West. The puzzle can be explained, of course. The demonstrators believe in modernity (the European lifestyle) without agreeing with the policies of the EU towards Turkey. There is a major distinction between modernity and the EU at these meetings. There is a sense that the AKP is using the EU to counter the Kemalist establishment. These secular nationalist Turks (and primarily ethnic Turks) believe that the EU, along with the United States, only cares about its own national interests and not secularism or modernity in Turkey. While claiming to be in favor of secularism and liberalism, they often voice intolerant views concerning the rights of religious citizens and fail to appreciate the contradiction in defending Western-style freedoms while championing the right of unelected military officers to intervene in civilian politics. Moreover, the demonstrators believe that the United States wants to see the evolution of Islamic movements by using the case of Turkey as an experiment. Also, it appears that the European and American governments believe it would be much easier to work with the AKP rather than with secular sectors of society, since the AKP leadership is dependent on Washington and the West for security from another “soft coup” launched by the Kemalist establishment.13
These meetings, along with the April 27 military ultimatum, had four major consequences for the political landscape of Turkey: Gül withdrew his candidacy; fragmentation among political parties has been ended through one successful and one failed merger; early national elections were called; and Erdogan made a drastic change in the list of newly nominated deputies by purging almost all Islamically oriented deputies,14 along with any critical voices from the party such as Ertugrul Yalçinbayir, known to be the “moral conscience of the AKP.”15 In a so-far unsuccessful attempt to appease Kemalist/ secularist critics, Erdogan nominated ex-leftists, journalists from the Alevi community and some women to overcome charges that the AKP is a “party of the religio-political community.” The most important consequence of the crisis was the landslide electoral victory of Erdogan in the July 2007 elections.
Since the 1980 coup, the Turkish political spectrum has been divided and contested among charismatic personalities more than on ideological grounds. Speakers at the republic rallies and protest slogans have repeatedly called for secularist parties to unite against the “Islamist” AKP. Indeed, in response to these calls, the leaders of the two main center-right parties, the DYP and the ANAP, tried to merge as the Democrat party. This merger failed a month before the election, not only preventing their representation in Parliament but also denying center-right voters a genuine option. On May 24, 2007, the Democratic Left party (DSP) reached an agreement with the main opposition Republican People’s party (CHP) to have a common list at the elections. These mergers have been criticized by Erdogan: as he argued, “Putting 40 rotten eggs together does not make a good one.” Indeed, this merger failed to help the CHP and also destroyed the center-right parties in the national elections.
The core mobilizing force of these meetings and new mergers is the fear-based nationalism in the country. The secularists, who established the regime after the War of Independence, are now not only lagging behind religious Turks in terms of modern consumerism and active economic activity, but are ideologically extremely rigid. Those secularists who organized major political rallies against the Erdogan government believe that Erdogan and the people around him have not changed and constitute a “threat” to the secular nature of the state and society.
Although the AKP government, which has pushed Turkey toward EU membership, has denied having any Islamic agenda, it has taken a number of policy initiatives that have stoked secularist concerns. For instance, the government is against a headscarf ban in schools and state buildings, yet tried to facilitate the entry of Imam Hatip graduates into the universities and expand religious education. Erdogan also tried to criminalize adultery before being forced to back down under intense EU pressure. Moreover, some party-run municipalities use state funds for religious books and have also taken steps to ban alcohol consumption. Indeed, Erdogan has failed to bridge the gap between Turkey’s religious heartland and secular Turks, and his policies have deepened the feeling among secularists of being under siege.
GUARDIANS OF THE KEMALIST ETHOS: THE MILITARY
The third important actor in the April 2007 crisis is the military, which acted as an “opposition party.” To understand the reaction of the military to the presidential election, one has to examine its identity and insecurity. The military played a determinant role in the establishment of the republic and the formation of Turkish identity. The generals treat secularism as a solution to sectarian and ethnic-based social fragmentation and as a way of creating a national identity. The military is extremely sensitive about secularism, since it treats it as the cardinal principle of the Republic’s ethos of modern nation-building. Moreover, under the legacy of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the military thinks that consociational multi-ethnic and multireligious entities cannot survive and that they would always lead to constant outside interference in domestic affairs, eventually leading to the destruction of the state. To avoid the potential break-up of the state, the military stresses unitary national integration and the creation of a homogeneous nation through secularism and Turkish nationalism. Its conception of modernity equates to the process of secular nation-state building. Any challenge to this ethos is regarded as a threat to the state. There have been two major challenges to the project of secular nation-building: Islamic and Kurdish activism, both identified as the enemies of the republic.
The military carried out coups in 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997, either to eliminate or contain these challenges.16 It has been largely successful in containing them, though its often-brutal methods (especially as regards the Kurdish minority) have led to a self-fulfilling prophecy, strengthening Kurdish nationalist demands and even separatism.17
There has been a confrontational relationship between the military and the Islamic movement, known as the National Outlook Movement, founded by Necmettin Erbakan. The military was involved in two coups (1980 and 1997) against Erbakan’s pro-Islamic parties. Since the AKP evolved out of his National Outlook Movement, the military has always been suspicious about the “intentions” of the party and its leadership — Erdogan, Gül and Bulent Arinç, who were also active members of the Islamic movement.
The AKP came to power in 2002 after a major economic crisis and a series of political-corruption cases. Before the AKP’s rise to power, the military reluctantly supported the EU process and did not object to legal changes since EU membership was a step toward the realization of Mustafa Kemal’s modernization project.18 However, within the military, there were also critical voices against the process.19 When the Ecevit government secured the date for accession talks in 1999, the military fully backed the move, as EU membership became state policy.20
The government made a number of legal changes without much reaction from the military. For instance, it passed a law banning capital punishment, even though many people argued that this would help Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. These legal changes included both the role and ideological position of the military in the state system and ideological positions taken by the military, such as recognition of the individual rights of the Kurds and broadcasting in mother tongues by ethnic (meaning “Kurdish”) minorities. The military usually agreed with these legal changes, particularly because they trusted the Ecevit-Bahçeli government and weren’t in a position to object since public opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of EU membership, and the military wanted to be in tune with the public.
Another reason for the reduced role of the military was the fact that terrorist attacks had been minimized by 2002, so that terrorism was not a major issue when the AKP came to power. The ascent of the military into politics was very much a function of Kurdish secessionism. In 1993, the military took full responsibility to fight and defeat PKK terrorism and had contained the situation by 1996, though with considerable loss of innocent lives on both sides. During the fight, the military’s role was expanded in several areas, from education, health care and infrastructure to foreign policy. It was the military’s determined confrontation that led Syria to expel Öcalan in 1999. He was subsequently brought to Turkey, having been snatched in Kenya with CIA and Mossad assistance. Since 1999, most of the PKK operatives are known to have regrouped in northern Iraq. As a result of Turkey’s restored security and the EU pressure, the government ended “emergency rule” in southeastern Turkey. Thus, when the AKP came to power in 2002, terror was very much contained, and the military had to withdraw to its barracks.
However, the AKP government pursued a policy of ignoring the military and its concerns on security issues. When the AKP came to power, the chief of the General Staff was Hilmi Özkök, a moderate and a democrat who defended European standards of civilian-military relations. Yet most of the commanders were extremely suspicious of the AKP and its intentions. The government failed to utilize Özkök to develop closer ties with the military. The first interaction between the military and the government took place over the U.S. decision to open a second front through Turkey into Iraq. The AKP blamed the military for Parliament’s decision not to allow American troops into Turkey or send Turkish troops to Iraq.21 In other words, the AKP’s key foreign and domestic policy has been to limit the power and influence of the military and it measured its success in terms of the withdrawal of the military from policy areas.
These policies had a negative effect on the military; many mid-level officers started to question Özkök’s soft line towards the government.22 In the perception of high-ranking officers, the AKP government shifted the blame for deteriorating relations between the Turkish military and the Pentagon by constantly complaining about the military’s positions on Iraq, the Kurdish question and Iran. In short, internal divisions in Turkish society led the AKP government, like its Kemalist opponents in the past, to appeal to the United States as an ally against its domestic foes and search for legitimacy in Washington by opposing the military’s role in the Turkish political system.23 The government was viewed as not solicitous enough of the military’s views on the Cyprus conflict, northern Iraq and terrorism. All of these factors led to the formation of an anti-AKP and anti-Özkök attitude within the military, but the EU process blocked any assertive role for the military.
Nonetheless, an opportunity was created for the military to assert itself. The key event was the European Council decision in December 2005 that dashed Turkey’s hoped of joining the EU. Both the military and large sectors of Turkish society started to question the EU’s sincerity over full membership. This created room for maneuver against the AKP government. A second crisis was caused by the government’s diplomatic initiatives in the Middle East, including relations with Hamas. When 11 Turkish Special Forces in Northern Iraq (Suliemaniya) were arrested and humiliated by U.S. troops in 2003, the government was accused of remaining silent. Tension increased further over the anti-terror law that the military asked for in 2005-06. The AKP government reluctantly agreed to a softer version since many civil-society and religious groups, especially the Gülen community, fought very hard against the bill. They worried that the anti-terror law could be used to violate the civil liberties of their own social and political activists.24 The debate over the law took place while PKK attacks were increasing, leading General Özkök to question the sincerity of the AKP government in the war against terrorism.
The most pressing problem was the government’s failure to solve the Kurdish question through liberal political reforms and inclusion. The deeper problem was the lack of shared understanding of the sources and nature of the Kurdish problem. The AKP leadership treated the Kurdish challenge as stemming from past Kemalist authoritarianism and even regarded the Kurds as an ideological ally against the rigid Kemalist regime. The military defined the separatist Kurdish challenge in terms of territorial integrity, national unity and the Kemalist nation-state system. Thus, strategies for containing the Kurdish challenge vary. Erdogan has been accused by nationalist circles of having too many advisers of Kurdish background.
The AKP government was also accused of being reluctant to use military force (an “offensive policy”) to deal with PKK attacks. For instance, Erdogan told a group of journalists, “There is no reason to carry out an operation against the PKK if they are not attacking.”25 Ilker Basbug, the commander of the Ground Troops, reacted to Erdogan’s statement by saying, “Offensive operations against the PKK will continue until no terrorists are left.”26 In response to the military’s aggressive posture, the AKP government tried to use the EU institutions and norms to rein in the armed forces.27 Some close to the government voiced the opinion that “the military wants to maintain its power and budget by exaggerating [the threat] and constantly engaging in military operations against the PKK.” The Kurdish question has become the most significant weapon with which the military and the AKP government delegitimize each other. In this sense, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has dealt a heavy blow to the consolidation of democracy in Turkey. It brought a huge arsenal to Iraq, to which the PKK had access via Kurdish peshmergas (militias), in addition to new tactics with which to fight the Turkish military.28
Many high-ranking generals and center-left politicians of the CHP believe that the AKP government is in “collaboration” with Kurdish forces. They argue that “the AKP tried to stop the PKK attacks by engaging with the Iraqi Kurdish leaders, Masud Barzani and Jalal Talabani (the current Iraqi president), through Washington until the presidential elections in 2007.” Indeed, when the possibility of AKP success in the presidential election was dashed, the PKK intensified its attacks in June 2007. “The main concern of the government,” according to the CHP leadership, “was not the Kurdish issue or PKK terrorism but rather the control of the presidency.” The military felt isolated in the war against the PKK. The AKP’s close interaction with Barzani made the military suspicious. The power of pro-Barzani forces among AKP deputies raised a number of questions, and the military started to speculate about the secret agreement between the Iraqi government and the AKP in favor of Turkish concessions over Kirkuk and an independent Kurdish state. The military is inflaming the Kurdish problem to undermine the nationalist qualifications of the AKP and mobilize the masses against the government.
THE GÜLEN FACTOR: A SOURCE OF TENSION
The worst crisis was caused by the perception in the military and some secular sectors over the recruitment of followers of the religious leader Fetullah Gülen into the national police and the Ministry of Education. In our interviews, a high-ranking military officer had this to say:
The Islamization of society was completed by different Islamic groups and Sufi orders. Now we are seeing the Islamization of state institutions and bureaucracy. It is very similar to the Islamization of the bureaucracy in Pakistan, especially the education and the police force. They have not been able to penetrate the military. The group which leads to this Islamization of the state is the Fetullah Gülen community. They use almost every means, even those which are Islamic, to achieve their goal of controlling the state. The AKP government, which lacks its own educated cadre, is very much dependent on Gülen’s followers. Moreover, the university exams are now dominated by the graduates of these Gülen schools. They will dominate the bureaucracy.
Indeed, criticism has been voiced by a number of Kemalist bureaucrats about the attempts of the Gülen community to use the police force against the military.29 During our interviews in Ankara, a number of high-ranking military officers raised questions about the degree to which promotion in some ministries took place on the basis of religious-network-based solidarity. This alleged penetration by the Gülen community of the bureaucracy is the major source of concern for the military, and they do not want a similar process to take place within the military as well.30
In addition to these policy differences between the AKP government and the military, the new chief of the General Staff, Yasar Büyükanit, defended the traditional activist role of the military within the political system and did not hesitate to resist the policies of the government. Before he was appointed as chief, there was a vicious campaign against him. He was first accused of not being a “Turk” but rather of Sabbatean/Jewish ancestry.31 “When these accusations were spreading around websites,” according to a military officer, “Büyükanit became the target of the Gülen community via the Semdinli incident,” in which Turkish special security forces were accused of bombing a bookstore owned by a former Kurdish activist in Semdinli (in Van) in 2005, among other events.32 Some AKP deputies expressed suspicion of military hardliners’ involvement in the incident and supported the Van prosecutor’s indictment of Büyükanit. For instance, Faruk Ünsal, the AKP deputy from Adiyaman, said, “The indictment prepared by the office of the Van prosecutor has done what we were unable to do.” Another AKP deputy, Hasan Tasci from Manisa, said: “What we left unfinished is now completed by the Van prosecutor. He did his job.”33
The military believes that the Gülen community launched a major campaign through its media outlets and pro-Gülen police force against Büyükanit to stop his appointment. The Gülen community did not want Büyükanit to be the next chief of the general staff because, when he was commander of Kuleli Military High school and the War College in Ankara, he purged a number of students who had ties with the Gülen community. The anti-Büyükanit campaign and negative reporting on the military have created an anti-Gülen mood within the military and some high-ranking generals have blamed the AKP government for using the Gülen community against the military. General Büyükani regarded the campaign against him as the work of the Gülen community within the police and the government. This, in turn, made him more confrontational, and he became suspicious of the Gülen community’s alliance with the AKP government. The leading daily newspaper Zaman, which is owned by the Gülen community, and the weekly magazine Nokta sought to associate him with underground organizations of the “deep state,” accused of fomenting instability in the country in the past. Some columnists who have close ties with the AKP government, such as Fehmi Koru, started to raise questions about the military’s role in terror activities.34 The government did not defend the military or challenge journalists who voiced such suspicions.
Erdogan’s attempt to nominate his popular foreign minister, Abdullah Gül, as the next president of Turkey without societal consensus led to a gradual military “intervention” into politics to “get rid of the AKP government.” The military could not accept Gül as the president for a number of reasons. The president in the Turkish system has considerable power in blocking laws and appointing high officials. S/he has the authority to appoint judges of the Constitutional Court and members of the Council of Higher Education, as well as university rectors, high judges and the general directorate of Turkish Radio and Television (TRT). The president is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, presides over the national security council, and has authority to impose a state of emergency and even declare war if Parliament is not in session. As the commander-in-chief, the president plays an important role in the promotion of generals and can drive out officers who challenge the ideological unity (Kemalism) and homogeneity of the military. During the tenure of President Sezer, the military developed a good working relationship with the political institutions. The military would like to have someone who does not have any (non-Kemalist) ideological position but rather is committed to the Kemalist ethos of secularism and nation-building. On April 12, 2007, General Büyükanit told a group of journalists that the military expects in a new president “someone who truly respects the principles of the republic, not someone who pretends to do so.” Due to the military’s concerns, shared by the secular sector, Erdogan hesitated to reveal the name of the presidential candidate until the last minute. The military did not want someone like Gül, who has been a critic of Kemalism and is steeped in Islamic ideology.
In addition to these domestic and personality factors, trouble with the EU also facilitated the military memorandum on April 27, 2007. The EU, at least in the eyes of most Turks, lost its credibility after the election of Sarkozy as the president of France. The United States, deeply involved with its “democratization” projects in Iraq and Afghanistan, did not have much time for Turkish politics and anti-Americanism was running very high in Turkey. Thus, the military was not very concerned about outside reaction to its memorandum, nor, indeed, was there significant reaction.
THE FUTURE OF TURKEY
The configuration of forces in the Republican meetings, the statement by the military, the decisions of the Constitutional Court, and the merging of the leftist parties have prevented the takeover of the presidency by the AKP in the short run. However, the AKP used this crisis to challenge the forces of the status quo and emerged as the largest party in the July 22, 2007, elections. It will have enough seats to form the government, though it will control fewer seats in the parliament. Four parties (the AKP, CHP, MHP and pro-Kurdish DTP) achieved representation and parliamentary and the ruling AKP emerged the strongest. After receiving 34.4 percent of the vote in the November 3, 2002, elections, it increased its total to 46.5 percent in July 2007. This was an increase of 12 percent for its second term. That total would give the AKP 341 seats in the 550member parliament. The secularist CHP and the nationalist MHP won an estimated 112 and 71 seats respectively. Up to 25 seats will go to independent candidates, including 20 Kurdish representatives who are expected to merge under the pro-Kurdish Demokratik Toplum Partisi (Democratic Society party).
There are two key reasons for the AKP’s landslide electoral victory; one economic and one political. According to public surveys, the factor that determined people’s decision to vote for the AKP was the economic situation. As already noted, during the previous five years, Turkey has achieved a 7.5 percent average annual growth, record foreign investment that jumped from $1.2 billion to $20 billion, and much lower inflation. The AKP-led social welfare networks also played an important role by reducing the negative consequences of the market economy. Moreover, the Turkish currency was replaced with a new one that has maintained its value. In short, the people cared about their daily lives more than any supposed long-term ideological threat from the AKP. Thus, neither identity nor ideology but rather services and improvements in daily existence determined electoral choices.
The party used municipalities to provide food, coal and especially healthcare to millions of people through new reforms. Under the new healthcare reform, people have access to private care with the government’s support. In other words, privatization of healthcare improved the situation, at least in the short run. The AKP government also expanded the bureaucracy through new hires.
As far as political factors are concerned, the most crucial one was Erdogan’s charisma as the supreme leader of the conservative masses. He was always viewed as one of them — in his body language, the model he presented and his over-all lifestyle. In addition, Gül became as significant as Erdogan in the 2007 elections since the AKP election platform was very much built around the Kemalist campaign against his presidency. The impact of the presidential election worked in favor of the AKP. The party’s election platform was very much based on “Mazloum” (wronged one) and the exclusion of the pious from the public sphere by the “white Turks.” The Kemalist establishment was framed as “white Turks” and the supporters of the AKP as the “blacks” of Turkey, who have been marginalized by the system. This “framing” of the crisis was very successful among ordinary Turks. The framing mobilized Islamic networks, especially the Gülen community, which has an ongoing conflict with the military, in favor of the AKP. The AKP organized more meetings and carried its message to every corner of the country.35 It organized mass rallies in 58 provinces, whereas the CHP held them in only 20 provinces.
Even though the AKP government did not propose any political solution to the Kurdish issue or put forward a regional economic development program, the Kurds voted for it, for three reasons. Many Kurds regard the AKP as an anti-Kemalist and anti-systemic party that has been “suppressed” by the same enemy as they have. The e-memorandum of the military created a sense of unity among the Kurds and the AKP that they all confront the same oppressive military and the Kemalist state. Moreover, many people liked the counter-memorandum of the AKP leadership against the military. When the terrorist attacks increased two months before the elections, the AKP presented this through its “local rumor channels” (e.g., coffeehouses) as the work of the “hawks” within the army to militarize the region and even intervene in northern Iraq. Many religious Kurds believe that the AKP has a “hidden agenda” to transform the Kemalist state through a new civic constitution.
Moreover, the AKP deputies in the Kurdish region carried out a vocal campaign against the military threat to intervene in the affairs of northern Iraq. The AKP had a Kurdish first election platform in the region, and the people regarded it as a way of decimalizing the state and reconstructing a binational state with decentralization of power under a new “civic constitution” that the AKP promised to create.
Despite this electoral victory, the presidential crisis will force the AKP leadership to shift from a majoritarian form of governance to more coalition-oriented policy making. Lacking enough seats (367) to elect the president, it will search for a compromise with other parties. A more center-right AKP that includes ex-leftists and some liberals will also help to overcome the fears of the secular establishment and society over the principles of the republic. In addition to the AKP, the Nationalist Movement party of Devlet Bahceli and several dozen Kurdish deputies were elected as independent MPs. In order to overcome the 10 percent threshold to be elected as a candidate of a political party, many Kurdish politicians ran as independents and will form a Kurdish-only parliamentary group, under DTP. In the new parliament, there will be more debate over the Kurdish question. In short, a more diverse and balanced parliament has emerged after the 2007 elections. This will also halt the military’s function as an “opposition party” to counterbalance the AKP. Moreover, we might also see less radicalized Kurdish politics since the Kurds will now have national representation.
Overall, the next parliament will have four parties: the AKP, CHP, MHP, and Kurdishnationalist DTP (Democratic Society party).
The AKP will not “dictate” policy and “ignore” the sensitivities of diverse sectors of the society when there are two more (nationalistic Turkish and Kurdish) parties along with the CHP. The AKP’s main challenge will stem from the opposition of the MHP, since they share the same grass roots. This will remove the need of the military to interfere in the name of nationalism. Thus, we will likely see more confrontation between the AKP and MHP and less with the military. Although the military will not be more interventionist, since there will be the nationalist MHP in the parliament, General Büyükanit will not hesitate to air his views on security issues — he will be retiring in August 2008. Büyükanit prefers to be remembered as a “nationalistic, tough and Kemalist general.” Moreover, those new deputies who were included at the last minute to demonstrate that the AKP had moved to the center of politics will be difficult to control, and party discipline will not function as it did in the previous parliament. These last minute “added” deputies will act in line with their previous ideological identities; this, in turn, will create a more fragmented AKP parliamentary group. Since the Kurdish ethnic party (DTP) will be in parliament, the pro-Kurdish deputies of the AKP will prefer to act with their ethnic kin on any policy areas related to the Kurdish issue. Thus, the party will become a site of confrontation between Kurdish and Turkish deputies.
Having the MHP in parliament, the AKP will constantly be questioned on the basis of its nationalism. The first term of the AKP government generated huge amounts of income from the privatization process. In the second term, the party will confront the question of unemployment and income inequality.
Turkey is again seeking to develop a shared and inclusive political language to redefine the future of the country. The Turkish version of electoral “democratism” is less likely to create a necessary center of tolerance in which a shared and inclusive language might be created. The military wants to maintain the power structure of old Turkey (what it knows the best), whereas the AKP government wants to dictate its own version of a new Turkey. The AKP seeks to discontinue the nation building project of Kemalism and instead recognize the multiculturalism of the country — though with Islamic undertones— including political and cultural rights for the Kurds. The crisis is between the two diametrically opposing visions of Turkey. The main challenges are the role of Islam in the public sphere and the nature of the Turkish “nation.” The AKP is defending the radical restructuring of the country along multiethnic lines and a greater role for Islam as a new glue for the Turkish nation. The military, along with the secular sector of the society, fears the shadow of the multiethnic and multireligious Ottoman legacy and the possibility of the fragmentation of the nation. The political crisis will wax and wane until the citizens of Turkey find a new shared political language to overcome their fears and build a new Turkey through democratic processes.
1 The authors interviewed a total of 12 high ranking security and civilian bureaucrats for this study. The interviews were conducted in a face-to-face format in Ankara. All interviewees agreed to be quoted, subject to anonymity. Dr. Yuzu would like to thank the University of Utah Middle East Center for providing travel support to carry out field work in Turkey to write this article. We would also like to thank Kenan Camurcu, Mujeeb R. Khan, Saban Kardas and Hasan Kosebalaban.
2 See M. Hakan Yavuz, Islamic Political Identity in Turkey (Oxford University Press, 2003). For more on the French and American version of secularism, see Ahmet Kuru, “Reinterpretation of Secularism in Turkey: The Case of the Justice and Development Party,” in M. Hakan Yavuz, ed., The Emergence of a New Turkey: Democracy and AK Parti (University of Utah Press, 2006), pp. 136-159.
3 Engin Yidirim, “Labor Pains or Achilles’ Heel: The Justice and Development Party and Labor in Turkey,” in Yavuz, op. cit.
4 Jose Casanova, “The Long. Difficult, and Tortuous Journey of Turkey into Europe and the Dilemma of European Civilization,” Constellations, Vol. 13, No 2 (2006), pp. 234-247. Joseph Nye argues, “One of the crucial questions of twenty-first century politics will be how the world copes with the rise of political Islam. For radical Islamists (and some Westerners), the rise of Islam sets the scene for a ‘clash of civilizations,’ which they welcome as a polarizing device that will allow them to recruit from the much larger Muslim mainstream. “But Turkey has the potential to show the shallowness of such a scenario by demonstrating the compatibility of liberal democracy and Islam. Unfortunately, this appears to have been lost on the neoconservatives in the Bush administration, for whom the invasion of Iraq and its liberation from Saddam Hussein was supposed to provide a beacon for a wave of democratization that would transform the Middle East. What they produced instead was an ‘electocracy’ that, in the absence of liberal institutions, replaced the tyranny of the Sunni minority with a tyranny of the Shiite majority and a religious sectarian civil war.” http:// www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/nye45.
5 Graham Fuller, The New Turkish Republic: Turkey as a Pivotal State in the Muslim World (The U.S. Institute of Peace, forthcoming).
6 At the Copenhagen Council summit in 1993, the criteria for future membership in the EU were determined: (1) the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the protection of minority rights; (2) the existence of a functioning market economy, as well as the capacity to cope with competitive market forces within the EU; and (3) the ability to shoulder the obligations of membership, such as adherence to the goals of political, economic and monetary union.
7 Soli Özel, “Testing Democracy,” World Today (June 2007), p. 12.
8 The statement created a major political debate and polarized society between the military and the AKP sympathizers. Hasan Celal Güzel, a former center-right politician, wrote the most critical essays in his column in the daily Radikal.
9 Ahmet Davutoglu, Stratejik Derinlik/Turkiye’nin Uluslarasi Konumu (Istanbul: Küre Yayinlari, 2000). Yalçin Akdogan, Siyasal Islam, Refah Partisi’nin Anatomisi, (Istanbul: Sehir Yayincilik, 2000). Ömer Dinçer, Ömer Çelik and Yalçin Akdogan were the members of the editorial board of the Islamist magazine Bilgi ve Hikmet. This semi-academic journal included a number of articles about the role of Islam and criticized the hegemonic secular system in Turkey. One of the most controversial articles was written by Professor Ömer Dinçer, “21. Yüzyila Girerken Dünya ve Türkiye Gündeminde Islam,” Bilgi ve Hikmet, No. 12, (1995), pp. 3-7. This article criticizes the Kemalist reforms and calls for the restoration of an Islamic worldview. With the AKP government, Professor Dinçer was made the undersecretary of the Prime Ministry. Due to his controversial writing against the reforms of Mustafa Kemal, he became the main target of the militant secular newspaper Cumhuriyet. Professor Dinçer was also accused of plagiarism, and after close scrutiny by the Council of Higher Education, he was found “guilty and banned from teaching in universities.” “YÖK Intihal Dedi,” Milliyet, 21 October 2005; (Retrieved from http://www.ntvmsnbc.com/news/346177.asp ). Prime Minister Erdogan’s adviser Ömer Çelik also made several contributions to Bilgi ve Hikmet. See Ömer Çelik, “Siyasal Özgürlük, Siyasal Bilginin Epistemolojisi ve Radikal Islam,” Bilgi ve Hikmet, (1995), pp. 8-13.
10 Mehmet Bekaroglu, a prominent Muslim democrat, wrote the best study on the evolution of the AKP and its leadership: see M. Bekaroglu, “Adil Düzen”den “Dünya Gerceklerine”: Siyasetin Sonu (Ankara: Elips, 2007). This lengthy yet detailed work provides deep sociological and psychological insights about the roots of the AKP.
11 Sencer Ayata, “Meydanlardakiler yeni orta sinif’tir,” Milliyet, 21-22 May 2007; Yavuz’s e-mail exchange with Professor Ayata on May 22, 2007.
12 Gündüz Aktan, “Korkmazcanlar,” Radikal, 24 April 2007; Aktan, “Çiplak Gercekler” Radikal, 1 May 2007.
13 As of 2007, nationalist feelings are running high. Many people are disappointed with the lack of U.S. support against the PKK, and many resent U.S. support for Kurdish autonomy in northern Iraq. The cooperation of the Kurdish militias in Iraq is more important to the United States than Turkey’s concerns.
14 Erdogan excluded a significant number of AKP deputies from the “National Outlook Movement of Erbakan “in an effort to alter perceptions that the party was too conservative and to position it in the center of the political spectrum. Moreover, Erdogan did not renominate most of the deputies who voted against the March 1 motion that would have allowed U.S. troops to enter Iraq from Turkey in 2003. Many ex-Parliamentarians such as AKP Adana MP Abdullah Çaliskan claim their vote was due to the April 27 memorandum of the military and the meeting between Erdogan and Büyükanit on May 5, 2007, at Dolmabahce Palace. Former MP Ersönmez Yarbay of Ankara, who has always been in favor of democratic processes within the AKP, explains the major transformation of the list as a reflection of a region-based solidarity network. Milliyet, 7 June 2007.
15 Yalçinbayir said “The AKP won the 2002 election with a platform that stressed three ‘Ys’: Yoksulluk (Poverty), Yasaklar (Restrictions), and Yolsuzluk (Corruption). Now we need to add four more “Ys” to describe the party: ‘Yozlasma , Yandaslik (clienetalism), Yagcilik, Yiyicilik (bribery), Yobazlik (religious fanaticism).’ Radikal, 8 June 2007. According to Kenan Camurcu, a leading analyst of Islamic politics, “Erdogan cannot allow some ‘native’ politicians to criticize his policies, and he preferred to bring ‘guests’ such as Ertugrul Günay into the party to give impression that the party is inclusive. But he does not want to lose his authoritarian control.” Interview with Camurcu, 8 June 2007.
16 In the education of young military officers, the two events are constantly reinforced. When the group of ideologically oriented military officers took over the control of the government between 1908 and 1918, they destroyed the empire and ended the Ottoman state and also risked the viability of the Turks as a group. When Büyükanit was commander of the War College (Kara Harp Okulu) in Ankara, he organized a conference to examine “The Lessons of the Balkan Wars and Their Contemporary Impacts,” on 26 April 1995. The proceedings of this panel were published by the War College. For more on the impacts of the Balkan Wars on the Turkish military, see Selek Sabahattin, Anadolu Ihtilali, (Istanbul: Kastas Yayinlari, 1987), pp. 105-117. For the impacts of the military coups on military dicispline, see Akyaz Dogan, Askeri Müdahalelerin Orduya Etkisi, Hiyerarsi Disi Örgütlenmeden Emir Komuta Zincirine, (Istanbul: Iletisim Yayinlari, 2002).
17 M. Hakan Yavuz and Nihat Ali Özcan, “The Kurdish Question and the JDP,” The Middle East Journal, Vol 13, No. 1 (2006), pp. 102-119; M. Hakan Yavuz “Kurdish Ethno-Nationalism,” in Nationalism and Minority Identities in Islamic Societies, ed. Maya Shatzmiller (McGill: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005), pp.
56-85; M.Hakan Yavuz and Michael M. Gunter, “The Kurdish Nation,” Current History, (January 2001), pp. 33-39.
18 The military handbook for conscripts defines Western civilization as the collective legacy of humanity that stresses reason, technology and freedom. Yurt Sevgisi Egitimi (Ankara: K.K.K. Basimevi, 2003), p. 37. Radikal, 25 Nisan 2002, “Asker AB tartismasini bitirdi.”
19 Hasan Kösebalaban, “Turkey’s EU Membership: A Clash of Security Cultures,” Middle East Policy, Vol. 9, No. 2 (2002), pp.130-46; . M. Hakan Yavuz and Mujeeb Khan, “Turkey and Europe: Will East Meet West?,” Current History, Vol. 103, No. 676 (November 2004), pp. 389-393.
20 Ersel Aydinli, Nihat Ali Özcan, Dogan Akyaz, “The Turkish Military’s March Toward Europe,” Foreign Affairs (January/February 2006), pp. 77-90. For a different interpretation of the military and the EU, see Kösebalaban, “Turkey’s EU membership.”
21 See Saban Kardas, “Turkey and the Iraqi Crisis: JDP Between Identity and Interest,” in The Emergence of a New Turkey: Democracy and AK Parti (University of Utah Press, 2006), pp. 306-333. Fikret Bila, Sivil Darbe Girigimi ve Ankara’da Irak Savaslari (Ankara: Ümit Yayincilik, 2003), pp. 42, 43.
22 For the dissent against the soft policies of Özkök, see Mustafa Balbay, “Genç Subaylar tedirgin,” Cumhuriyet, 23 Mayis 2003. Özkök defended its policies by organizing a press conference; see “TSKda görüs ayriligi yok,” Radikal, 14 Nisan 2004.
23 One of the key reasons many Islamist deputies, along with pro-Barzani deputies of the AKP, voted against the March 1 motion has to do with the possibility of the increased role of the military and the declaration of the emergency law around the Turkish-Iraqi border. For instance, Ahmet Davutoglu told CNN-Turk TV, “If we were to allow the U.S. troops, we had to declare an emergency situation in southeast Turkey. This could have created a problem in our relations with the EU” (16 February 2004).
24 “Terörle Mücadele Yasasi,” Zaman, 8 September 2005; Ekrem Dumanli, “Terörle Mücadelede rota sasarsa,” Zaman, 12 September 2005.
25 Hasan Cemal, “Basbakan Erdogan’dan Amerika yolunda Komutanlara Mesajlar: Irtica diye Bir Tehdit Yok,” Milliyet, 1 October 2006.
26 For the statements of Ilker Basbug, see http://www.kkk.tsk.mil.tr/BasinHalklaIliskiler/BasinAciklama/ DiyarbakirBasinAciklama.doc.
27 Ilhan Uzgel, “Dis Politikada AKP: Stratejik Konumdan Stratejik Modele,” Mulkiye, No. 252 (2006), pp. 69-84.
28 Foreign Minister Gül argued that the PKK received not only military support from Iraqi groups under U.S. occupation but also training and new military tactics from the Iraqi resistance and some Kurdish permergas. Hürriyet, 14 June 2007.
29 Rusen Cakir, http://ntvmsnbc.com/news/275733.asp; Ahmet Insel, “Neofeodal devlette ilerlerken,” Radikal II, 4 March 2007. For more on the military vs. Turkish police force, see http://www.tsk.mil.tr/10_ARSIV/ 10_1_Basin_Yayin_Faaliyetleri/10_1_7_Konusmalar/2006/harpakademilerikonusmasi_02102006.html
30 Cemil Cicek, the minister of justice, became the main target of the Gülen community because of his support for the anti-terror law. For more on the reaction of the military, see Cumhuriyet, 9 April 2007; Ahmet Hakan, “Cemaat, ey cemaat,” Hürriyet, 2 April 2007; Ahmet Hakan, "Cemaat diyor ki: O bakan bize düsman," Hürriyet, 4 April 2007.
31 These accusations spread around the websites. See critical responses to these rumors: Mehmet Yilmaz, Hürriyet, 6 March 2006; Bekir Coskun, Hürriyet, 7 March 2006.
32 According to Ferhat Sarikaya, a prosecutor in Van who stayed in Gülen community dormitories when he was a law student and is believed to have continued his ties with the Gülen community, was accused by senior military officers, including Büyükanit, of using the “Kurdish issue” to undermine Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.
33 Mehmet Yilmaz, Hürriyet, 7 March 2007.
34 Sermin Saribas, “Türkiye’nin en Ünlü Komplo Teorisyenleri,” Hürriyet, 6 May 2001; Koru is one of “Turkey’s three leading conspiracy theorists.” For more on Koru’s conspiracy theories, see Birikim, No. 178 (February 2004). His wildest conspiracy theories involve the CIA’s attack on September 11, 2001. Yeni Safak, 17 Eylül 2001. As he starts to have access to the “goodies of the government during the AKP,” he has changed a bit. He has two columns in the daily pro-AKP Yeni Safak.
35 On the mobilization of the Gülen networks in Kurdish provinces, see Altan Tan’s interview in Milliyet, July 30, 2007.