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Erdogan Unraveling
Turkish PM Supports Retrial for Officers Convicted of Coup Plot

Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan signaled a willingness on Sunday to allow a retrial of hundreds of army officers who were convicted of a conspiracy to overthrow the government. Former military chiefs, alongside hundreds of more junior officers, journalists, and opposition lawmakers, were sentenced to lengthy prison sentences in the so-called “Ergenekon” trial in 2013.

“Our position on a retrial is a favorable one,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, as Germany’s Deutsche Welle reports.

In the long-running battle for power between Erdogan’s Islamist AKP party and the military, the Ergenekon trial was monumental.It firmly established Erdogan and the civilian government as the military’s masters, not the other way around. But the trial re-emerged into the news last week when one of Erdogan’s close advisers spoke of a government “plot” against the military. The military seized on those comments and filed a formal motion for a retrial, adding to the pressure on Erdogan.

Erdogan’s government is still embroiled in another bitter controversy. Three weeks ago, the police began arresting dozens of people, including high-ranking officials and businessmen, and the sons of some of Erdogan’s cabinet ministers. The raids came as a result of a wide-ranging corruption investigation targeting smuggling, massive construction projects, and illegal dealing with Iran, among other allegations. Millions of dollars were found in shoeboxes in one minister’s house. Several ministers resigned, and one called on Erdogan himself to explain the situation, but Erdogan retaliated by ordering the arrest of scores of police officers and accusing an international cabal of a “dark plot” against the country and his government. His accusations focused in particular on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Islamist living in rural Pennsylvania who is the spiritual head of an enormous and popular philanthropical and educational organization.

Though it’s hard to know the truth in Turkey’s murky politics, Erdogan’s apparent acceptance of a retrial in the Ergenekon case looks like a deal between Team Erdogan and the military at a tough time: a bid for allies and an attempt to ease the pressure on his government. The prosecution of the army officers helped Erdogan’s Islamists break the army and its secular allies, but now the Islamists are split. One Islamist faction is using its strength among prosecutors and judges to pressure Erdogan. By supporting retrials for convicted army personnel on the grounds they were railroaded, Erdogan is making a play for military support in a moment of trouble.

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  • bigfire

    It still astonishes me how Erdogan got away with the military purge last time. Unlike most other nation, it is WRITTEN into constitution by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk that Military is the guardian of the country, not the civilian elected politicians, and they have a duty to remove those that stray from its intend. Lets see how this pans out.

  • Maynerd

    Erdogan is bad news. He plays the conspiratorial anti-semitic global banking cartel card reflexively. His economic “miracle” was largely based on an easy credit import fueled consumption party. Thankfully the EU did not admit this developing Turkish train wreck.

    Obama and his advisers erred in befriending this wannabee dictator in democratic clothing.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I have no doubt that Erdogan has done every thing possible to make himself Tyrant and President for life. Railroading the military was just one of the criminal activities he has performed.

  • Jim__L

    The truth about Turkey’s “murky politics” is the the military overthrows the civilian government on a regular basis. When this sort of thing happens in Egypt, VM treats those who don’t call it a coup with a great deal of irony and snark.

    Why is it so implausible to VM that these military officers might actually have been guilty of plotting, well, a coup?

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