Wednesday, March 08, 2006


"The blue bus is calling us
The blue bus is calling us
Driver, where are you taking us?"

Jim Morrison, "The Doors," 1967.

Last November, Yasar Buyukanit praised the character of one of the Semdinli bombers, Ali Kaya, saying that he was a good kid, an excellent soldier, an intelligence officer of Buyukanit's staff when Buyukanit was in command of Turkish forces in South Kurdistan.

Looking over the Turkish media today, one would think that Buyukanit will soon be joining the ranks of those five journalists who, last month, were charged with attempting to influence the Turkish judiciary. They had written articles critical of a Turkish court's decision to suspend a conference on the Armenian genocide late last summer.

Buyukanit is now threatened with the same charge for speaking in glowing terms about one of the bombers of Semdinli.

Seriously, Buyukanit doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of getting lumped with a pack of journalists. In his case, the charge is only politics. The question is: Why?

There is a need to cover up the Semdinli bombing. Soon after the bombing, Erdogan publicly insisted that there be a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of the matter and a Parliamentary commission was established for this purpose. Things weren't looking good for the state, especially since the residents of Semdinli had caught the bombers red-handed. The bombers were recognized as Turkish intelligence agents, talk of "deep state" started again in earnest, and mass protests spread through Turkish-occupied Kurdistan. Kurds as far away as Istanbul protested the bombing, rightly seeing it as a renewal of the old special warfare operations against the Kurdish people.

No one seemed to have taken much notice of two other, similar, bombings in the region later the same month.

The sincerity of the government in bringing the event to light came to a screeching halt on 24 November, as described in this article from the WRMEA:

A Nov. 24 meeting at the prime ministry with military officials, called to discuss “terrorism,” ended with politicians retreating from their earlier enthusiasm for a full investigation in Semdinli. The military also criticized the politicians for linking the incident to the “deep state,” stressing instead that the PKK—and Kurdish groups across the border in northern Iraq—should have been held responsible.

Nothing changes. Everyone knows who's still running the show, especially since right after that meeting, the Turkish media machine began to blame the all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful PKK for the Semdinli event. You could even say that the Turkish media got its marching orders straight from the top. Lately, the machine has been spinning in overtime, with warnings of plots, PLOTS, I tell you, by the omniscient, omni-present, omnipotent PKK.

For example, Ilnur Cevik in The New Anatolian warns of hearing of disturbing Newroz plots and how these plots will only cause backlash against the Kurds. He says "Our citizens of any ethnic origin don't deserve this." Such plots, and their "rehearsals" are "ugly and scary," and attempts by the omniscient, omni-present, omnipotent PKK to "exploit the economic hardships" of Kurds will create a "mess." Yo, Ilnur! Kurdistan under Turkish occupation has been a "mess" since 1925! Where have you been, man??

TDN dutifully informs us that a deputy from Hodja's AKP warns of the omniscient, omni-present, omnipotent PKK "masterminding plans" and insists that the authorities do something to "foil the PKK plot!"

As the hysteria mounts and the shrieks increase in volume, none other than the Chief of Land Forces, and soon to be pasha of all he surveys, Yasar Buyukanit, offers us the strong, steady voice of the military, guiding the ship of state through the treacherous seas of the omniscient, omni-present, omnipotent PKK, reassuring all of us that "it was a chief duty of the Turkish military to fight any efforts made toward murdering the country's people" . . . unless, of course, those murdered are Kurds and those doing the murdering are TSK, JITEM, or any of the "deep state's" gangs that are permitted to roam freely and terrorize the Kurdish population.

But Buyukanit Pasha, the PKK are "good kids, excellent soldiers. . . "

That brings us back to the frenzy in the Turkish media today over the Buyukanit controversy, and it's getting more interesting with each passing nanosecond. The event that started the whole thing, in a nutshell, from the LA Times:

A prosecutor has called on the Turkish military to investigate a top general over allegations that the officer tried to set up a rogue force that would undermine the country's bid to join the European Union, Turkish media reported Monday.

The move sparked fresh tensions between Turkey's fiercely pro-secular army and its Islam-rooted government.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Monday with the chief of the military's general staff to discuss the accusations leveled by the chief prosecutor of the southeastern city of Van against Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, commander of Turkey's land forces, and two other senior officers.

Erdogan and the military chief of staff, Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, declined to comment on their talks.

Buyukanit, who is scheduled to succeed Ozkok in August, was quoted by the Turkish media as saying he was prepared to defend himself in court.

The prosecutor in question is the Wan prosecutor, in charge of the Semndinli investigation. As this prosecutor calls for an investigation of Buyukanit, so the government is now calling for an investigation of the prosecutor. From Reuters:

Turkey's Justice Ministry said on Wednesday it was investigating a regional prosecutor whose efforts to indict a top general have triggered tensions between the country's powerful military and the civilian authorities.

Ferhat Sarikaya, chief prosecutor of Van province, accuses General Yasar Buyukanit of abusing his position and setting up an illegal group whose aim he alleges is to foment unrest in the mainly Kurdish southeast and harm Turkey's bid to join the EU.

The allegations have outraged the military and embarrassed the government, which has swiftly distanced itself from the prosecutor's claims and defended Buyukanit -- number two in Turkey's military hierarchy.

You know this is going to be good when even non-Turkish media is talking about it.

No one seems to be able to decide what the deal is with Ferhat Sarikaya. Some, such as Yusuf Kanli and Mehmet Ali Birand over at TDN, are mulling the theory of the CHP, that the Wan prosecutor has attempted a "coup" against the military. That's a unique way of looking at it. In fact, it's a first in Turkey and is therefore infinitely worthy of the history books.

Mehmet Ali Birand also characterizes Erdogan as speaking "with the utmost clarity and decisiveness" to his cabinet on this issue. That is also a first. I would say that Erdogan has no choice, but that isn't true. He does have a choice but he is not strong enough to take the difficult route, and that is why he is fully backing Buyukanit on this. Erdogan remembers what has happened to past prime ministers who crossed the pashas on serious matters.

Cuneyt Ulsever, also on TDN, brings up the Iraq connection with Semdinli, something I've discussed on this blog before, although with a different conclusion than Cuneyt's.

Ilnur Cevik over at The New Anatolian, thinks Ferhat Sarikaya is an Islamist. Burak Bekdil, TDN, seems to agree with this assessment, going so far as to compare Ferhat Sarikaya's indictment with something written by a follower of Hodja, and worthy of Hodja's ragsheet, Zaman.

Speaking of which, Zaman seems to be keeping itself out of the fray. At least for now.

Then we have the leader of Anavatan making the implication that the Wan prosecutor is somehow connected to the omniscient, omni-present, omnipotent PKK:

Mumcu drew attention to the prosecutor using "the region" to refer to both the east and southeast of Turkey together in the indictment. He compared the use of the word as being in the style of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and claimed, "This style is strangely similar to that used by the PKK and pro-PKK groups. This is an indication that the prosecutor has ulterior motives."

In the end, what do we have?

This is all a massive cover-up of the Semdinli bombing, a crime which was perpetrated by the state against the Kurdish people. With all the threats in the Turkish media about Newroz "plots," the battle between Buyukanit and the Wan prosecutor will continue to manufacture distractions to facilitate the cover up of the "deep state's" provocations against the Kurdish people during Newroz.

There is something else, in addition. This may be the beginning of a showdown between the Islamists and the Kemalists. Of all the commentary I have read so far, I think Mete Belovacikli makes the best assessment, because he seems to sense what I sensed last year, that the situation was going to get worse. No doubt there is also an element of EU accession to it all, as well, which Mete also mentions.

I should note that Buyukanit is due to take over as Chief of General Staff in August.

In the meantime, the snow is melting, Newroz is coming and everything is heating up. It will be a wild ride.


Philip said...

It just breaks my heart to see good loyal Turkish prosecutors and good loyal Turkish pashas threatening and accusing each other. [sniff]

As am insightful man once said, you can support Kemalism, ir Islamism...but not both.

One might see in this situation a germ of a seed of a genesis of...a moment of celestial chaos!


Litmus said...

The only way to go about this without trying to make a right with two wrongs is to force a military tribunal to pick up the case instead, but I don't know realistic that would be.

Mizgîn said...

It seems to be getting even worse now, Philip.

I don't know how realistic a military tribunal would be either, Litmus. I think I would prefer something a little more neutral, like a commission from the EU, something connected with the ICC.

Juanita said...

It seems to be that slowly the truth is coming out. When one is caught essentially red-handed, one has to dance very fast. Turkey will have to dance very fast. The whole area is about to heat up. If I lived there I think the Arctic might be cool enough for a short visit. There are some new players in the area now, and a general awakening and sense of Eureka! even in Eurabia these days. I am more optimistic for the Kurds these days, than for anyone else in that volatile area. They have that "je ne sais pas quoi" that doctors talk about that makes some patients live while others die. Spirit and anger maybe...