Turkey is approaching some very fateful elections. Whatever happens in these three months before the elections will have to be interpreted with the elections in mind.
This is not to say that everything that happens is done specifically to influence the elections; but anything that happens will have an influence on the outcome. This is also true for anything that does not happen when it should. This gives analysts the right and duty to add an “election dimension” to their thinking.
One particular issue that “happened when it might not” was the Ergenekon investigation expanding to media outlets. The courts arrested two journalists who were allegedly involved in a plan to water down the investigation and the judicial process related to Ergenekon. One of the arrestees had already published a book about the Hizmet Movement (aka Gülen Movement) and the other was working on the draft of a new one. Nedim Şener’s book was titled “Fethullah Gülen and the Movement in the Ergenekon Documents” and Ahmet Şık’s was to be titled “The Imam’s Army,” where “imam” allegedly refers to Gülen.
The prosecutors believe that these books were ordered and financed by the Ergenekon organization and the texts were edited by its members to the extent that new sections as long as a hundred pages were added. We know neither what Şık himself wrote -- or whether he wrote anything at all -- nor what additions were made to his text. We do know, however, that there were directions added to his draft by unknown names -- unknown to us, anyway -- and these were in the form of orders, not suggestions.
Gülen himself did not run to the prosecutors about the book Şener published and his advocates declared that he is not planning to complain about Şık, either. Despite this, anti-Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and anti-Gülen journalists began to claim that this is an operation to “extinguish books” and some went as far as to claim that “whoever burns books burns also people.”
The fact on the grounds is that the prosecutors felt a media operation -- they had enough evidence to prove their claims and convince the judges -- against them and their case before the elections. This operation claims that Turkey’s police force has been infiltrated by Gülen sympathizers and they have forged the Ergenekon story, planting LAW weapons here and there and then “finding” them as evidence of a military conspiracy against the government. They produced thousands of pages of “coup plans,” including the army chief’s speech, to be given after the elections; they produced CDs and DVDs, including the names of people to be arrested after the coup and labeled civilian and military bureaucrats, sending them to the army’s offices under the roof of a central command colonel and then found them there, claiming that they were genuine coup plans.
Ho ho ho. And the books that claim all these are innocent intellectual productions. Ha ha ha.
One thing is true: The prosecutors did not care whether their operations against the pseudo-writers of these books would harm the image and interests of third parties; in this case the AK Party and the Hizmet Movement. The arrests damaged the image of the Hizmet Movement more than the books themselves did or would do.
I will not get into whether it is the duty of the movement or of the prosecutors to undo the harm done to the movement. I know this much: Gülen and his followers, including the writer of these lines, put the interests of their nation before their own image.
Let there be more light, even if it is our image that is set on fire.
Published on Today's Zaman, 31 March 2011, Thursday