Monday, May 16, 2011

WikiLeaks Turkey (3): an X-Ray of the ‘deep state’

“In every bureaucracy and every ilçe (provincial county), the deep state has individuals it can rely on to (1) keep tabs on internal developments and (2) to make clear the deep state position on particular issues that concern national security.

This system involves not only ministries, such as the Interior Ministry, which traditionally have been associated with maintaining domestic peace and order, but education and others deemed to play an essential role in maintaining the dominance of Kemalist institutions and ideas. Someone in each ilçe will have the keys to the local arsenal… A local Education Ministry rep will know that he is slated to become rector of a certain university some years down the line if he carries out his deep state functions well…”

This was the description by an insightful source -- with a background from a key ministry -- conveyed in October 2002 to the US ambassador at the time, Robert Pearson, who sent a cable on Nov. 15 of that year to the US State Department, concluding that “the Deep State is beginning to be challenged with an openness rare in the history of the Turkish Republic. The push is step by step. It must contend with centuries of ingrained habit and fear.”

“Step by step,” it would prove to be, indeed. But the steps would be too slow and, often moved back and forth. When some years had passed after the Pearson cable, another cable (classified “confidential”) sent to Washington, D.C., in Jan. 30, 2008, by Sharon Wiener, then US consul general in İstanbul, was adding some names to the picture.

“Allegedly, this extra-legal grouping works to influence and deliver public support behind actions by real state actors, often the military. Some, such as former Prime Minister and President Süleyman Demirel, voice support for this power center. Current PM Erdoğan apparently opposes it and is looking for ways to subvert if not destroy it… Successful prosecution of a deep state network would strike a blow against nationalist impunity and demonstrate a strong commitment to rule of law.”

In Nov. 21, 2008, US diplomats were offered an opportunity to share a detailed “expert view” on a product of the “Shadow State.” In a briefing, the Turkish National Police gave an extended description of how they believe the secret network, called Ergenekon, developed at the local and central level. “Briefers emphasized the key role played by former Gen. Veli Küçük, who they said had personally directed several murders.” The cable went on, also mentioning a former head of think tank ASAM as personally involved. The US Embassy’s political counselor, Daniel O’Grady, sent a “confidential” cable dated Nov. 24, detailing some key elements of the deep state.

“Ergenekon … had recruited members from right-wing nationalist groups whose adherents seemed appropriately extremist. It had produced various pamphlets and books, containing assertions such as: Turkish civilian governments have been ‘the servant of the West throughout history’; Turkey has been ‘invaded’ by foreigners and missionaries; democracy is not suitable for Turks; the Army has to intervene; Kurds are the main source of crimes in western Turkey; Kurdish population growth must be stopped; the EU and US contacts threaten the sovereignty of the Turkish government; Turkey is under the control of minorities; actions against Armenians are legitimate; selling lands to Brits and Germans and Israelis is an ‘invasion.’ The police briefers stated that Ergenekon had resolved to contact various terrorist groups to advance its goals of fomenting chaos and instability in Turkey, and had also proposed to establish fake terrorist organizations. Its contacts included the Turkish Mafia; IBDA/C, which aims to re-establish the Caliphate; Hizbuttahrir; and DHKP/C, which ‘is understood’ to have killed industrialist özdemir Sabanci on the orders of former General Veli Küçük.”

Tough as it may have been even for well-informed US diplomats to decode Turkey’s deep state, it is easier to look at the high record of unsolved political crimes. One fresh example of the “haunting truth” was published by a daily two days ago. It was about the massacre of political prisoners in Bayrampaşa Prison in İstanbul in December 2000. The documents revealed that the local gendarmerie command had, against the will and demands of the government, secretly prepared a plan (called Tufan) for the indiscriminate killing of all prisoners, who were on a hunger strike. Thirty of them died. The case against the security staff has been almost dead, proceeding for 10 years at a snail’s pace.

The question was obvious. It would never be for a local unit to prepare a plan like this. The response came from the Minister of Justice at that time, Ahmet Sami Türk, who said that the “National Security Council [MGK] had decided to stop the actions in prisons no matter what.” He was then not “entitled” to take part in the MGK’s meetings, he said. Search for “MGK” in the cables that I refer to in my three latest articles, in the context of the Deep State, and you will be easily guided to its true nature and raison d’etre.


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