The Turkish military issued a demand yesterday that puts a new wrinkle in a scandal that has gripped the nation over the past few weeks. The military’s general staff accused judicial prosecutors and police of manipulating and falsifying evidence in high-profile trials that concluded in 2012. The trials resulted in convictions on charges of treason and espionage for hundreds of officers, including former chiefs of the air force and navy, and signaled a major shift in civil-military relations in Turkey.Yesterday’s accusations by the military came on the heels of an eyebrow-raising statement made by one of Prime Minister Erdogan’s advisors:
“Those who plot against their own country’s national army … and a civil administration which has won its way into the people’s heart, know very well they are not doing something for the good of this country,” [Yalcin] Akdogan [Erdogan’s top political adviser] wrote in a column in the Star newspaper on December 24….Defense lawyers for army officers saw Akdogan’s comments as an admission that their clients had been victims of a conspiracy and have called for a retrial. Akdogan later said his comments had been misconstrued and did not refer to any specific trial.
This comes at a bad time for Erdogan. His government is reeling from a separate, more recent police corruption investigation that targeted members of his inner circle. Several members of his cabinet resigned; one alleged that Erdogan himself ought to issue an explanation. Erdogan has taken to giving speeches alleging that an international cabal of nefarious diplomats, journalists and bankers, including the American ambassador, are playing “dark games” against Turkey. Dozens of police officers have been arrested in retaliation.It’s impossible to tell how far this will go, but the military and its supporters clearly smell Erdogan’s blood in the water.