The orgy of arrests continues with over a hundred new people hauled in across the country, accused of being active in the Kurdish Communities Union, which lawmakers believe is the civil/urban wing of the armed Kurdish separatist group PKK, and of giving armed or logistical support to the PKK. Rounded up this time were predominantly members of labor unions, many of them women.
This follows a high-profile attempt by prosecutors in the same case to question and, when he refused to appear, to arrest the head of MIT, Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, and other high security officials. Apparently MIT officials were sent by Prime Minister Erdoğan to hold backroom talks with high-level Kurdish militants in a search for rapprochement, and this is being treated as a crime (which stretches credulity, since it was a government initiative). The more radical thesis is also being proposed that MIT was involved in the creation of the PKK. (Since there is evidence that the “deep state” that is, rogue elements of the military, were likely involved in setting up the vicious, radical Islamist group Turkish Hizbullah in order to use it to assassinate Kurdish leaders, this is not as far beyond the realm of possibility as one might think. Although like all conspiracy theories, it may not be true.) Parliament is examining the question of whether such high intelligence officials can be called to testify without authorization by the prime minister and a special prosecutor. The argument made by prosecutors is that they already have that status for the investigation of PKK terror, but parliament is debating this. A drawback is that giving immunity to high officials might also let the military officers now under arrest in the Ergenekon trial and accused of plotting coups, off the hook. (Another case with hundreds arrested, including military and civil officials, scholars, journalists, writers, civil society organizers, and so on.)
Meanwhile, it is unclear what exactly is going on — a battle between elements of the state? Between the police or judicial system and MIT? Between the AKP and the ‘deep state’? Between MIT and the military? The plot is so thick that it’s become impenetrable. (To me, at least.) Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) Chairwoman Ümit Boyner said yesterday, “We are moving away from the rule of law day by day. We regular people are watching the power struggle within the Turkish state with horror and an increased sense of insecurity.”
Watching prosecutors and the judiciary at work in Turkey is a bit like watching an out-of-control truck rampaging down the highway in the wrong lane. You can’t figure out why it’s happening, where it’s going, or how to stop it. You want to close your eyes, but you can’t. You know what’s coming, just not when, where, how, or who the crash will take down with it.
…Turkey has been plunged into total confusion in recent days by what appears to be a power struggle between the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) on the one hand and the police and judiciary on the other.
…Rivalry between state institutions is, of course, not a new problem in Turkey. What makes the current situation different is that the government had, to a large extent, managed to wrest control of the various pillars of the state from its secular opponents, and the current dispute appears to be taking place within the conservative segment. Speculation is rife: Is it a power struggle between the supporters of Fethullah Gülen and the government, as some commentators suggest, or rather one between factions divided by conflicting approaches to the Kurdish issue? There had been little evidence of such a conflict in recent weeks since government officials voiced support on several occasions for the controversial waves of arrests that have resulted in the detention of hundreds of people, including academics and journalists, allegedly linked to the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK). Others apparently believe the intervention was timed to prevent the government from launching a new round of negotiations with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), apparently planned for the spring…