Turkey’s Erdogan shows his iron fist

Erdogan is going about ruthlessly settling scores with the military. There is a moral here for Pakistan. Imagine, if the present civilian leadership had gone for the jugular veins of Pervez Musharraf, locking him up in a prison cell and putting him on trial for high treason. Pakistan’s all-powerful corps commanders would have understood by now what could happen to them if they acted unconstitutionally by destabilizing an elected government. 
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ERDOGAN ASSERTS SUPREMACY OF THE CIVILIAN RULE IN TURKEY. PUTS FEAR OF GOD INTO MINDS OF THE TURKISH PASHAS. IF THEY EVER DARE AGAIN TO SUBVERT THE CONSTITUTIONAL RULE, THER WILL BE A PRICE TO PAY.

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by M K Bhadrakumar

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The Turkish government’s move to detain the former chief of army staff General Ismail Hakki Karadayi for his role in the so-called ‘post-modern coup’ in 1997 against the first Islamist government in Ankara led by Necmettin Erbakan becomes a stunning development.

To be sure, the decision to go for Karadayi can be attributed one hundred percent to Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. Erdogan is not only asserting the supremacy of civilian rule but is putting the fear of god into the minds of the Turkish Pashas that if ever they dared again to subvert the constitutional rule, there will be a price to pay.

A big slice of Turkey’s current history is breaking loose and drifting away. Karadayi was a four star general and a legend in his time. He had just retired from the army when I took up my diplomatic assignment as ambassador in Ankara in October 1998. Those were the halcyon days of Turkey’sPashas.

They put Erbakan under house arrest and banned his Islamist Welfare Party — just like that. At the embassy parties in Ankara, when the Pashas strode in, a hushed silence would descend and diplomats would drop their trivial conversations and make a beeline toward them, the ‘powers that be’.

Indeed, Erdogan himself was facing a 10-month prison sentence at that time in 1998 – all for reciting a poem during a public speech in Siirt in 1997. Apparently, Erdogan (who was the Mayor of Istanbul at that time) recited, “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.”

By the way, those were lines written by a well-known pan-Turkic poet and activist Ziya Gokalp who lived in the early part of last century and, ironically, was an influential figure in shaping the reforms of Kemal Attaturk. Curiously enough, Gokalp was a staunch Turkish nationalist who rejected Ottomanism and Islamism alike.

Yet, the Pashas censured Erdogan. The point is, Kemalism very often provided a mere facade behind which the Pashas pursued the corporate interests of the Turkish military — perks, privileges, immunity from parliamentary scrutiny of the military budget, vast holdings in Turkey’s economy, etc.

Unsurprisingly, Erdogan is going about ruthlessly settling scores with the military. There is a moral here for Pakistan. Imagine, if the present civilian leadership had gone for the jugular veins of Pervez Musharraf, locking him up in a prison cell and putting him on trial for high treason. Pakistan’s all-powerful corps commanders would have understood by now what could happen to them if they acted unconstitutionally by destabilizing an elected government.

Erdogan is also setting an example for the Middle East, especially for Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi. Erdogan treaded carefully during his first term as prime minister, taking care not to provoke or confront the established political order where the military always behaved as more equal than the civilian leadership.

Looking back, he was determined not to meet the fate of Erbakan. But then, Erdogan didn’t forget anything; nor was he going to forgive. He has turned out to be an entirely different political personality after winning the parliamentary election in 2011 with a magnificent mandate of 52% of votes.

With Karadayi’s detention, Erdogan has proclaimed that he has no more reason to be apologetic about his political agenda. He is asserting that Islamism is Turkey’s political reality and Kemalists have to learn to live with it.

However, Erdogan is also in the process of drafting a new constitution that will transform Turkey into a presidential form of government, and he is intending to become a candidate in the presidential election in 2014. There is no one to match his towering personality on Turkey’s political landscape and his election is all but a foregone conclusionNow, what kind of a president Erdogan will make?

There is uneasiness among thoughtful Turks that Erdogan has an authoritarian streak in his personality. The way he has become intolerant toward dissent, his vindictive acts against journalists, etc. have certainly dented his profile as a democrat.

The paradox is that it is the Turkish military that would have worked as a check and balance on him if he ever became dictatorial. There are indeed many parallels that one can draw with the calculus of power in Egypt.

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 More from M K Bhadrakumar on Wonders of Pakistan 

1. Saudis Have Purchased the American Governmentand Victory for the Global “Caliphate” of Radical Islam 2. Syria: Regime Change and Smart Power 3. Pakistan gets a cuddle and a Zioconned hug…. 4. No, India Cannot Be the US’ Poodle [Viewpoint India] 5. Bear nettles the Eagle, Dragon smiles [in two parts] 6. Is India backing Obama’s gamble for Central Asian domination? 7. US sows discord in South Asia

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The path from Bangladesh to Bamiyan is not for Islamic militants fighting their so called Jihad. World community is standing guard on it. Now it is upto Pakistan to turn it into an ExpressWay or remain on the same old track. I see there a ray of hope for Pakistan. So let’s see what is going to happen.

    Our destiny is stll in the embryonic stage.

  2. Is there a parallel between Pakistan and Turkey? Apparently this article is irrelevant in respect of the prevailing situation in Pakistan. However, the author is an experienced diplomat, therefore, we cannot ignore the purpose of publishing this article in a Pakistani blog. I fail to get the hidden purpose though, except for the need of a drastic change in the existing constitution of Pakistan. Yes, it has to be moulded as per wishes of the Quaid-e-Azam.

    Only a secular Pakistan can survive in a secular world order. There is no scope of any compromise with redical Islam that presently prevails in Pakistan. It has to be eliminated this way or that way.

    After 10 year long surgical strikes by external forces, a rough and tough path has been laid down from Bangladesh to Bamiyan for the militant Islam, World community is there to guard on this errand. Now it is upto the Pakistan to turn this path into an Expressway or remain on the same old track. I see a new ray of hope for Pakistan. Let’s see what is going to happen next.

    Our destiny is stll in the embryonic stage.


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