Hell In The Middle Of Paradise

49a80e06d5058_e4.jpgPhoto from qantara.de

In his essay, the famous Turkish author Ahmet Altan describes the background to the Ergenekon affair and what it means to Turkish society. (click here for the full essay) Excerpts:

Turkey is like a hell in the middle of paradise… Death, murders, assassinations, gangs, bombs, political traps, racism, religious conflicts, power games and lawlessness repeatedly cause terrible suffering..

According to the public prosecutor, the ranks of the [Ergenekon] conspirators include members of the army, judiciary, bureaucracy, the business sector and the media, who attempted to provoke a putsch by criminal and terrorist means. The coup was set to take place in 2009.

In a major operation, the public prosecutor has had a large number of the network’s members arrested since January 2008. Although over 80 defendants, including former army officers, lawyers and journalists, have been on the bench since 20 October last, many members of the secret society are still at liberty…

Ergenekon’s view is something along these lines: Turkey is a republic founded by generals. This means that the army still plays a central role in politics… The majority of Turks with western lifestyles, western education and western literary tastes, who enjoy going out and dancing – in short: those whom a European in Turkey would be more likely to befriend – were against western democracy.

They feared that if everything were to work on a democratic basis, the army would have to step down from power and the “conservatives” might found an Islamic state. Some of them were genuinely afraid, while others did not want to jeopardise their cooperation with the army and the economic advantages and social status that came with it.

The outcome was a rift between those who did not lead western lives, but called for western-style democracy, and those who behaved like the West, but were against such a democracy…

No Responses to “Hell In The Middle Of Paradise”

  1. Jenny I know you have been here and can read/understand Turkish. Why are you not able to see Altan for what he is? Look at this assertion from the text you linked:

    Large parts of the army, the bureaucracy, the intellectual elite, the urban population and the media took an anti-democracy stance. They supported the idea of a coup and stood for a coalition with Russia and Iran.

    “Urban population’, eh? Do you know anyone form the urban population who thinks like this? Iran? Huh? I thought Ihsan Dagi was performing this particular service. (That is, telling Western audiences that the urban population is dangerously against them and for Iran and Russia.) Anyway, even the folks who went to the Rallies for the Republic wouldn’t say this about Iran. As stated, this is false and Altan knows it. He also knows he’ll get in print in the West nonetheless and be talked up as a major intellectual.

    You probably wouldn’t tolerate this kind of simplistic but very convenient falsehood in the US from an American author, why are you tolerating it from a Turk? Is this a case of the bon pour l’Orient approach? Do you think this society is incapable of producing people who can put a few paragraphs on paper w/o asserting obvious falsehoods?

    Anyway. I got news for you: neither of the players really want a western-style democracy. Furthernore, it is not the case that the powerful portions of their constituencies are after anything that would be recognizable in the West as a pluralistic liberal democracy. If you will keep quoting Taraf columnists, perhaps Murat Belge would be a saner voice. Unlike Altan who makes nice-sounding but false generalizations using the ‘d’ word, Belge has been talking about what he calls plebiscitarian despotism. Here’s what he wrote yesterday about the two poles that Altan comveniently misindentifies:

    Ancak sorun, i?itilir hale gelen bu “iki” sesin, ikisinin de, “tek” olmaktan vazgeçmemesi. ?öyle anlatmaya çal??ay?m: birisi “ezan” okuyacak, okuyor –imkân buldu?u her yerde ve buldu?u bütün hoparlörlerle. Ötekiyse imkân ve hoparlör bulam?yor, ama buldu?u anda ve yerde “Türkçe ezan” okuyacak. Bunun için hoparlör bulmasa da elinin alt?nda sesini en üst perdeden duyuraca?? düzeyler ve âletler var. Ama iki sesin sahibi de, ülkede ses ç?karan her ?eyin markas?n?n “Sahibinin Sesi” olmas? için ölesiye, k?yas?ya sava? veriyor.

  2. What I don’t understand is how Altan and others can continue presenting the Ergenekon investigation so uncritically without getting called out about this.
    While the Ergenekon investigation may have started out as an investigation into the deep state, it seems to have been transformed into something quite different. How else can you explain the arrest of opposition figures and journalists while obvious deep state figures like Sedat Bucak and Mehmet Agar (not to mention Kenan Evren) have not even been questioned? At the very least, this should raise some serious doubts about the aims of the individuals leading the Ergenekon investigation–though you’d never know that from reading Altan’s piece or from anything else in Taraf (or, for that matter, in most American coverage of the investigation either).
    While I think it’s great that Taraf is standing up to the military, I’d also like to see a more critical approach towards some other issues–the most important of which being the Ergenekon investigation itself.

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