Just Vote No

Here’s a chance for the secularists in Turkey to push back against Islam.

Turkey’s vote on constitution also a referendum on its premier

The battle between Turkey’s socially conservative, Islam-rooted government and the country’s more secular political establishment will come to a head Sunday, when Turks vote on a package of constitutional amendments in a referendum that is being cast as a judgment on the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A single up-or-down vote is required on 26 proposed constitutional changes. They include uncontroversial steps such as expanding rights for the disabled as well as a more polarizing amendment that would give the executive branch more power in appointing judges and state prosecutors.

The referendum is the most far-reaching attempt to amend the constitution since it was put in place in 1982 after a military coup. The results will shape Turkey’s political outlook as it heads into general elections in the spring. A no vote could bolster the opposition and cost Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) support in those elections. That could lead to a coalition government, which in the past has prompted economic instability.

A yes vote would give the AKP another chance to confirm its mandate and an advantage heading into campaigning for a third term. But it would also mean that the polarization among Turks about the country’s direction will continue to grow.

See also:
Turkey Referendum to Be Closely Watched
Recep Tayyip Erdogan facing crucial Turkey vote
Turks Hold Referendum on Amendments to Constitution
Key issues in Turkey’s referendum on amendments
Judicial referendum divides Turkey
Turkey votes in referendum to amend constitution
Turkey’s Vote A Popularity Contest For Democracy
Turks go to the polls in crucial referendum

This vote is huge, a microcosm for where the world is headed.

/keep your fingers crossed because it’s too close to call

Turkey Trouble?

Ruh roh.


Arrest of top-brass generals deepens Turkey power struggle

The arrest of dozens of high-ranking military figures in Turkey over an alleged coup plan dating back seven years marks the latest episode of a power struggle between the Islamist-rooted government and the army, the bastion of the secular order, analysts said Tuesday.

In a massive swoop, anti-terror police Monday detained more than 40 people, including the former air force and navy chiefs, over a purported plan drawn up in 2003 to oust the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Until recently, such tough action was inconceivable against the military which has toppled four governments in 50 years and exercised significant clout in politics.

But recent reforms to align the country with the European Union, spearheaded by the AKP government, has reduced the influence of the once-mighty military.

Monday’s arrests constitute a “breaking point” in Turkish political history, said the liberal Taraf daily which exposed the alleged coup plan code-named “Operation Sledgehammer” last month.

“The republic is now changing. The era of ‘dictatorships’ is coming to an end. The coup plotters are being arrested and brought to justice,” wrote the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Ahmet Altan.

According to Taraf, “Operation Sledgehammer” called for the bombing of two mosques in Istanbul at prayer time and organizing attacks by soldiers disguised as Islamists against symbols of secularism.

The coup planners also allegedly plotted to escalate tensions with Greece to secure the downing of a Turkish plane in a dog-fight with Greek jets over the Aegean with the ultimate aim of showing the government as inept and justifying a military takeover.

The army has denied the exisence of “Operation Sledgehammer” and complained of a “smear campaign” amid a string of similar plots for a military takeover carried by the pro-government media.

Dozens of former officers, among them two retired generals, are already on trial over the so-called Ergenekon network, an alleged secularist-nationalist group accused of planning to foment unrest to pave the way for a military coup.

The probe was initially hailed as a success, but has since come under doubt with some suspects accusing police of fabricating evidence.

Government critics claim the coup allegations are a bid by the AKP to cripple the army and remove a major obstacle to a hidden agenda of transforming Turkey into an Islamic state.

Hugh Pope, a senior analyst specialising on Turkey at the International Crisis Group, expressed doubt there was a “witch hunt” against the army.

“Clearly, the judiciary is extremely serious and they would certainly not have taken so many high-profile people into custody unless they had an absolute certainty in their mind that this is a real case,” he said.

Pope acknowledged there was “uncomfortable evidence” of abuses in the judicial process against the alleged coup plotters, but underlined the investigation also represented “a process by which Turkey is establishing the supremacy of civilian authority” over military power.

Alexandre Toumarkine, a political scientist from the French Institute of Anatolia Studies, said the possibility of some limited form of military intervention in EU-candidate Turkey in the 21st-century was not pure fiction.

“The image of tanks in the streets carries such a heavy political cost that such a hypothesis is probably unthinkable,” he said.

Nevertheless, plans of more discreet military intervention aimed at “restructuring the political system in depth” have “germinated in the minds of quite a few people,” he added.

“We have the impression that they have reached such a level (of antagonism) that the army either accepts to withdraw from the political area or continues to prepare the destabilization of the current government to compel it to leave the scene.”

See also:
Turkey Arrests Military Officers in Alleged 2003 Plot
Officers detained over Turkey coup plan
Turkey arrests over 40 for plotting coup
Number of arrested generals in Turkey reached 50
51 military commanders arrested over Turkey coup plot
Turkey closer than ever to trying coup instigators
Turkey’s defence chiefs assess ‘serious’ coup plot arrests
Political tensions mount in Turkey over alleged coup plot
Army grilled on Turkey ‘coup plot’
Turkey army issues warning after ‘coup plot’ arrests
‘Sledgehammer’ inquiry divides Turkey
Arrests expose Turkish fault line
Turkey’s opposition leaders slam detention of military commanders
EU, US back ‘Sledgehammer’ investigation for Turkey’s democracy
A New Military Coup in Turkey Could Derail Protocols, Says Expert
Ruben Safrastyan: military coup unlikely in Turkey
Ruben Safrastyan: Events in Turkey may grow in to a military coup

/hmmm, Islamists versus Secularists, who to root for?