The Augean Stables? More Arrests of Military Officers

Wave after wave of arrests are sweeping the former Kemalist establishment as officers and others accused of fomenting coups or civic disorder to pave the way for coups are sucked into a vast vortex of prosecutions that makes up the Ergenekon and related cases. Last week’s arrests included former Deputy Chief of General Staff General Çevik Bir. This week’s netted a dozen retired and active-duty officers, including General Staff retired General Erol Özkasnak. An AKP member of parliament told the press that next on the list were former prime ministers like Süleyman Demirel and Tansu Çiller and seven journalists. (here, in Turkish). The latest arrests are of people said to be involved in “the February 28 Process”. February 28, 1997 refers to the date when the military-dominated National Security Council met and issued directives to the Islamist prime minister Necmettin Erbakan that he could not meet, forcing him to resign in June. It is also referred to more colorfully as a “soft coup” or a postmodern coup. (click here)

Is this the fifth labor of Hercules — cleaning out the Augean stables? Well, those stables kept filling with new filth as the beasts returned each night, so it would have been an endless task had Hercules not devised a feat of engineering that swept water through the stables every day. And even though he won by figuring out how to keep the stables clean, things didn’t work out so well for Hercules in the end. Even though a judge ruled that he should be paid for his labors (the large share of the cattle agreed upon with the king), he wasn’t paid and had to leave town. And he dragged an innocent boy who stood witness for him into exile as well.

Is the Turkish government going about this cleanup in the wrong way, using shovels and the blunt instrument of the existing legal system and dragging innocent people away with the muck?  Isn’t the better way to radically redesign the lay of the land so that cleanliness and transparency become the norm? I have great hopes that the new Constitution will be the redesign of the Augean stables. Like poor Hercules, the reward for this social ingenuity may be fleeting — praise, power, wealth, then an eventual change in regime. That’s the nature of democracy. Do a good deed, throw it into the sea…

One Response to “The Augean Stables? More Arrests of Military Officers”

  1. Alas, I don’t have much hope for the new constitution. The party in power is eliminating as much opposition as it can with the various cases–(My God, are there enough courts? I suppose they’ve started up this ‘community service’ business for at least 10.000 criminals so there will be room in the prisons). By the time June gets here, there will be only one party with the power to effect the constitution and I imagine that İdris Şahin reflects what they intend to put into place.

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