Thursday, January 22, 2009

Turkish counter-coup arrests continue.

The Government of the Republic of Turkey has been clamping down on what was claimed to be an extra-legal conspiracy to remove the AK party government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan from power. Eighty six people, predominantly linked to or members of the military, are already under charges, and 30 more people were just arrested.

Some background: Coup d'etat used to be jokingly considered 'the national sport' of Turkey by European observers, and there certainly is a history of them happening regularly.

The issue, to be blunt, is that in tradition and in some readings of the Turkish Constitution, the Military is the defender of the constitutional order and the Kemalist (secular state) reforms, and is thus correct to assume the government if a popularly elected administration strays toward unacceptable policy. Communism and Islamism are both on the unacceptable list.

The most recent constitution, as amended in 2004 is not definitive on a "right" of the military to assume the government, but it does continue to place military officers as peers to the President on the National Security Council, (MGK, from the Turkish) the absolute authority of policy for the state. This rather undermines the basic constitutional point that the military reports to the President as Commander-in-Chief, but again not definitively.

There is a meeting planned for today (Thursday, local time) between the Prime Minister and the Chief of the Armed Forces "in an effort to decrease tensions" between the civil administration and the military (and judicial) sectors.

The questions remain, however: Was there really a coup plot; and was it subscribed to by the current military leadership?

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