A New Era in Turkish Politics Starts After the Military Showdown Over the Weekend
Turkish military and the government are expected to meet on Monday soon after the resignation of the army chiefs over a scandal in Turkey called “Sledgehammer conspiracy,” which is though to change the balance of power in this NATO member country with a powerful saying in the Muslim world.
The meeting comes at a time when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems to be in control both within the boundaries of the large Euro-Asian nation and in the politics of the country abroad, playing a winning card and rising the stakes as he goes along.
The move on Friday, when the heads of army resigned over the status of some of their comrades accused of having plotted to overthrow the regime and grab power for the military, was seen by experts as a blow for the public opinion, which up until then had only seen governments resigning at the demand of the generals, under accusations most of the time related to infringing the secularist form of the state.
The first response of the move made by the generals was a tumbling of the national currency, the Turkish lira.
Analysts think that as the Prime Minister meets with the generals to discuss promotions, within the Supreme Military Council, there are few chances for a national crisis to emerge from these talks, let alone with a serious impact on national economy.
The most that is to be expected, they say, is for some other generals to resign their posts and for a little temporary response on the markets.
Gareth Jenkins, military analyst connected to Turkish military, told Wall Street Journal that when the Turkish chiefs of staff, air, naval and ground forces, resigned, they did so in order to prevent a crisis from occurring.
Jenkins brings as argument in favor of his assertion that they waited until the hour when the markets closed and made sure by Monday, when markets opened again, they would have replacements, so that the impact be as mild as possible.
Analysts think that this move is the final show of strength for the Justice and Development Party, ruled by Erdogan, who made various attempts to neutralize one by one the secularist-controlled institutions: presidency, universities, courts and military.
Erdogan was arrested in 1990s for reciting an Islamic poem in public, and since then he went through three election victories, which consolidated his political ground, and won him the support of the people, so that the parallel state represented by the military be finally defeated.
Analysts consider that now that the military no longer pose a threat to his actions, the downside is that he must take responsibility for his failures, which had been blamed until no long ago on the parallel state.
Erdogan’s success is seen by many analysts as a result of playing the victim’s part. And the secularist state has plainly provided him with reasons: Constitutional Court barred his access to the PM office he had won a year before; in 2007, Abdullah Gul was blocked from becoming the president of the republic by the same institution which also decided that the party Erdogan belongs to is dangerous for Turkish statehood.
Over the time, Erdogan had to deny, on various occasions, that his party was a disguised Islamist party. Many of those who accused them of being Islamists have been arrested over the years under the accusation of willing to topple the government.
Erdogan is preparing to give Turkey a new constitution, which must be the result of negotiation and compromise in the society. He wants to eliminate the bans on religious freedoms such wearing scarves in the universities, to institute a more serious control on alcoholic beverages in the country, all the while denying any Islamist affiliation.
The same strong hand is being playing by the regime of Erdogan abroad, in the international policy.
Thus, he threatened to freeze relations with Europe, unless a deal was reached on Cyprus before the island takes of the rotating presidency of the continental body.
He refused any negotiation with the Kurdish representatives and refused to accept a thaw on the relations with Israel, not long ago one of the closest friends of Turkey, unless an apology was presented, compensation to the families that lost dear ones in the attack on Mavi Marmara was paid and the Gaza blockade was lifted.
Since Israel is having a very hard time apologizing for fear that the soldiers may become subject to international prosecution, Erdogan is considering the idea of visiting Gaza Strip, as his cabinet announced.
Earlier in the year, a flare-up sparked within NATO, as France and Turkey had different opinions on the way the campaign in Libya should proceed. The Turkish point of view was accepted by the members of NATO and the campaign continued under the continental military organization’s supervision.
Turkey is expected to become a major player in all the Muslim world, as well as in Europe, if it becomes a member of the EU.11