A dark room appears on the screen with an enormous screen hanging on the wall, and in a fierce tone and rage a man with a wrinkled face yells:
“What we need right now is a clear message to the people of this country. This message must be read in every newspaper, heard on every radio, seen on every television. This message must resound throughout the entire Interlink! I want this country to realize that we stand on the edge of oblivion. I want every man, woman and child to understand how close we are to chaos. I want everyone to remember why they need us!”
This person is Adam Sutler, the out – of-control paranoid and aggressive psycho-dictator from the depths of a political nightmare; adapted by Wachowkis from the original graphic novel in the dystopian political thriller film “V for Vendetta” (2005). The film is set in an alternative future where the UK has been subjugated by a supremacist and neo-fascist totalitarian regime. The titular character V is an anarchist fighter for liberty that tries to ignite a revolution through elaborate acts of terror.
As cited, the sick and hopeless squeeze of Mr. Sutler for complete command of every part of the life and minds of people brings him into ever more extreme measures. Underneath, a whole country finds itself obvious, yet unchecked, mass surveillance by its own government. Political experts on television are shouting about immigrants, homosexuals, and Muslims.
F for Fethullah: “The jamaat”
Although Fethullah Jamaat’s infiltration of state organizations had begun long before, at the end of the 1960s, the era began with the Ergenekon case in 2008, culminating in a coup attempt in 2016, Turkey witnessed forged documents, illegal surveillance and irrational charges just as in the film “V for Vendetta” and the scene cited.
“The jamaat” was always in good terms with different governments in the past; however, it haf begun to use its authority in bureaucracy under AKP. On the other hand, the opposition has always been critical of Islamic structures such as jamaats, tariqas and so on, but under a different title they have pointed out “the jamaat” and defined it as a threat to secular republic. When Fetullah jamaat felt stronger enough within the state apparatus, they had been targeting secular, Kemalist and/or leftist people in particular to implement their plans and destroy the opposition. This enormous seismic wave decreases the military’s ability and was endorsed by seniors of the AKP, Islamists and liberals due to the reason of a reduction in the military’s impact on politics. Other prominent figures were also imprisoned on false evidence; i.e. investigative Journalist Ahmet Şık because of an unpublished book (Imam’ın Ordusu–The Imam’s Army) on jamaat, Hanefi Avcı–former police chief. The highlight, however, was the arrest of former chief of staff, Ilker Başbuğ, on grounds of leading a terrorist organization.
For the opposition groups, it was “F for Fear” as Ahmet Şık said while his arrest “Whoever touches (the Gülen jamaat) gets burned.” Persecution and fear became the ultimate instrument for “the jamaat” with the support of ruling power.
By the early 2010s, the AKP government began to concern about the impact of “the jamaat,” whose domination in the state apparatus began to choke the governing authority. The turning point, however, was likely the invitation of Hakan Fidan (Chief of Turkish National Intelligence Agency, MIT) to testify in the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case on February 2012 by Istanbul prosecutor. After this event, AKP targeted “the jamaat”‘s main source of finance and human resources; educational institutions (dershane). In 2013, it was suggested to close the private educational institutions. Following this step, the “jamaat” released illegal recordings of senior government officials and Erdoğan’s family on bribery, corruption, etc. in December of the same year. The alliance was over and the fight between the “jamaat” and the AKP began. “We’re going to put this system out into the open, which is a state within the state,” said Erdoğan. Nevertheless, prominent figures in Islamic and conservative circles tried to mediate the situation until the attempted coup on July 15, 2016.
A for Apocalypse: the attempted coup
July 15, 2016 was an entirely apocalyptic night throughout the country, especially in Ankara. There were fighter jets, helicopters, bombs, bullets and chaos in every aspect in Çankaya neighborhood of Ankara, where most of the governmental and military headquarters are located. It was recognized late at night that “jamaat” fractions within Turkish military attempted a coup to overthrow the government and President Erdoğan leading to the deaths of over 200 civilians and many injured. Turkish fighter jets dropped bombs on their own parliament, Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar was abducted by his own security detail, and in other words, Turkey witnessed the most bloody attempted coup in its political history. The attempt was made by a group within the Turkish Armed Forces, who called themselves the “Peace at Home Council”, those who had a direct connection with Fetullah jamaat.
President Erdoğan warned the coup plotters that “they will pay a heavy price for it.” On 20 July 2016, in reaction to the attempted coup, President Erdoğan announced a three-month state of emergency; raised Article 120 of Turkey’s Constitution stating “Declaration of State of Emergency on the grounds of widespread abuse and severe deterioration of government order.” It was also announced that, following the attempted coup d’état, Turkey temporarily suspended part of the European Convention on Human Rights because of Article 15 of the Convention stating that “conflict or other government emergency threatening the life of the nation.” The two-year state of emergency ended on 19 July 2018.
On August 7, over a million people gathered in the meeting area of Istanbul Yenikapı for an anti-coup rally organized by the Turkish governing party. President Erdoğan and the two opposition party leaders, CHP and MHP, were present, but the pro-Kurdish party leader was not invited. “The jamaat” was declared as a terrorist organization in the following period, and the state started to put pressure on jamaat-linked companies, media outlets, and other organizations.
D for Democracy: Urgently
The ruling party could have used the attempted July 15 coup as a common ground for unity, pluralist democracy, and rule of law; and this could have been the most meaningful response to the plotters of the coup. Nevertheless, Turkey has become an oppressive nation by the state of emergency in the past three years, sailing away from democratic values, law and basic rights / freedom.
Unfortunately, when evaluating the Fetullah jamaat, their seniors fled either just before or after the coup attempt from country to US or Europe. For those who could not, it can be concluded that most of jamaat linked people within state organizations were detained, but the operations continued to eradicate FETO presence in the military, police, judiciary, and bureaucracy. Hundreds of thousands of people have been jailed. But the purges spread quickly, targeting opposition leaders, lawyers, reporters, and human rights supporters, as well as other opposition groups targeted by FETO a few years ago. It should also be taken into account that FETO has an effective global network, which is why Turkey cannot clarify and be persuasive in its statements about the attempted coup and its jammat link in international circles, which are extremely skeptical about the connection. Clearly, the oppressive implementations of governing party over whole opposition groups are not useful to the situation.
In the aftermath of the attempted coup in 2016 the political narrative of Turkey completely changed. Turkey has witnessed the influence of the ruling party over a politized judiciary and a stranglehold on news media and political dissent over the past 3 years. The extensive emergency powers given to President Erdoğan by the Parliament, enabled him and the AKP to rule by decree, sideline political rivals, and implement sweeping changes to the Turkish state, constitution, and economy. On the other hand, the political faction of the coup attempt is still unknown and attempts to investigate have been stonewalled in the Parliament by the ruling alliance.
Seen by some as a triumph of democracy and by others as the start of the authoritarian shift of Turkey, few occurrences have redefined the country’s politics, such as the attempted coup of July 15. It must be acknowledged, therefore, that the attempted coup d’état on July 15 could not generate a common ground and feeling in Turkish society. Indeed, there is no need to seek one, with the addition of social reconciliation, the founding principles of the republic are quite sufficient. Following the nightmare and bitter experience of an Islamic jamaat’s attempted coup, Turkish society should be aware of the danger of the jamaats and tariqas intervening in politics, and secularism, democracy and rule of law must urgently be restored in Turkey.
As our founding leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk stated with his brilliant foresight, “The Republic of Turkey cannot be a country of sheikhs, dervishes, and disciples. The truest, most real order is the order of civilization.”
Other highlights from past week
Turkey removed from the F35 program
The US has removed Turkey from the F-35 joint strike fighter program and by March 2020, Turkey will lose its manufacturing on the jet following its acceptance of the Russia air defense system S-400. The White House released a statement on July 17 confirming and stated “Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible,”
“Turkey has been a longstanding and trusted partner and NATO Ally for over 65 years, but accepting the S-400 undermines the commitments all NATO Allies made to each other to move away from Russian systems,” written in the statement.
The Pentagon held a press conference shortly after White House statement to explain the process with Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Ellen Lord and Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy David Trachtenberg. “Turkey cannot field a Russian intelligence collection platform in proximity to where the F-35 program makes repairs, and houses the F-35. Much of the F-35′s strength lies in its stealth capabilities, so the ability to detect those capabilities would jeopardize the long term security of the F-35 program. We seek only to protect the long term security of the F-35 program,” Lord said. Also, added that all Turkish F-35 personnel have been informed to leave the US by July 31.
Russian news outlet SputnikTurkey fires journalists
After an interview with former PM Ahmet Davutoğlu, who is alleged to be setting up a new rival party against President Erdoğan, the Russian media channel Sputnik Turkey finished a political radio program of three Turkish journalists.
Gezi protests lawsuit
A Turkish court on July 18 ruled to remand in jail prominent businessman and rights activist Osman Kavala, who is accused of trying to overthrow the government by organizing Gezi protests six years ago, one of his lawyers said. The next hearing of the case was scheduled for October 8-9. On Thursday, the court heard defense statements from Kavala and the lawyers for the defendants. The trial, which received widespread criticism from Ankara’s Western allies, began in June against a backdrop of concerns about growing authoritarianism in Turkey, where tens of thousands have been arrested in a crackdown on dissent since a failed military coup targeting Erdogan in 2016. (Reuters reported)
Kaftancıoğlu’s case proceeds
Canan Kaftancioglu, who heads the Istanbul branch of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), is accused of insulting President Erdogan and the Turkish state in tweets posted between 2012 and 2017 and of making terror propaganda. On July 18, during a trial she described the situation as a “revenge” for the success of the opposition in Istanbul, she rejected the charges against her, according to her attorneys. “This trial is meant to punish (me) for fighting to return Istanbul back to the people,” she said after the hearing. “I’m not going to go back down; I’m going to continue fighting.”
Court rules to keep former pro-Kurdish party co-chair Demirtaş in jail
On July 17, a Turkish court ruled for continuation of arrest for the former co-chair of pro-Kurdish HDP Selahattin Demirtaş until the next hearing on September. He has been detained for almost three years on numerous charges including engaging in propaganda for a terrorist organization.