Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan moves against the military
Since the time of Ataturk, the Turkish military has acted as a bulwark against Islamic extremism. Several times since the end of World War I, the military has overthrown a civilian government - often because they felt that a secular Turkey was under threat from fanatics. (See Stephen Green's excellent piece at PJ Media about the military's role in post World War I Turkish history).
The election of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2002 has brought dramatic changes to Turkey. Erdogan has instituted what some are calling "soft Sharia" by incrementally altering Turkish institutions and society to reflect a more Islamist approach to government. And now, Erdogan is moving against the one force that can stop Turkey's slide into extremism.
Claire Berlinsky at Richochet links to a piece describing Erdogan's attempt to intimidate the military:
A Turkish court ruled Friday that 133 current and former military officers must be jailed pending the outcome of their trial on charges of plotting to overthrow the government and issued warrants for the arrests of 29 other officers, Anatolia news agency reported.
Security forces immediately closed all courthouse doors and detained the defendants, including the former air force and navy chiefs, broadcaster NTV reported. The officers began chanting military songs to protest the court's decision, the TV station reported.
The officers, including several high-ranking generals, are on trial accused of conspiring to topple Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government in 2003. All but one officer had been free until Friday's hearing.
She also links to a piece from the son of one of the accused that paints a disturbing picture:
THE REACTION we got from the country's liberal intelligentsia was symptomatic. The Turkish intelligentsia has made common cause in recent years with the AKP government, thanks in large part to the AKP's success in presenting itself as a force for democratization and civilianization of Turkish politics. These intellectuals see Sledgehammer and other similar trials as a chance to make ultra-secularists and militarists accountable for the crimes of the past. Given Turkey's history of military coups, this is understandable; we saw things pretty much the same way until recently.
What was much more difficult to fathom was these intellectuals' unwillingness to question their beliefs in light of mounting evidence that the defendants had been framed. Many of Turkey's leading "liberals" simply turned their backs on the evidence that we had amassed. They refused to meet with us, failed to show up at panels where we presented our findings, and left our e-mails unanswered. The reporter who first broke the Sledgehammer story in the newspaper Taraf, a ubiquitous presence in the Turkish media, declined invitations to debate us on TV. Ironically, while we were in Turkey prosecutors were forced to reveal-after presistent demands from lawyers-reams of material pointing to the inconsistencies we had identified (and more), which they had chosen to disregard (and hide from the defense).
Obviously, the son of one of the "ringleaders" of the plot is hardly an unbiased source. But if even some of his accusations are true, this is extremely troubling. Turkey, once a strong ally of Israel, recently sponsored the Gaza "Freedom Flotilla" and has been cozying up to Iran in recent months. To continue to fall away from the West and embrace Islamization would mean a shift in the strategic situation of the United States. Turkey is a member of NATO and to see them drift toward Iran would make a gigantic hole in our position in the Middle East while seeing Iran gain an ally in a vital part of the world.
If the military is leashed and is sidelined by Erdogan's ploy, can Turkey protect itself from the extremists? Erdogan can't be trusted to do it himself.