December 22, 2014

Meaning and consequences of Dec. 14 operation

Cafer Solgun

The Dec. 17 operation clearly indicates where the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has taken Turkey so far.

(1) President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling party have invented an “enemy” that they refer to as the “parallel state” and made it a political life-and-death matter to fight this enemy. Although they refer to the Hizmet movement with this “parallel state” label, they have been conducting an operation that targets the entire country. Thus, they have undertaken a big purge of the judiciary, the police and the state bureaucracy as a whole, and this purge is still under way.

(2) They have exerted extraordinary efforts to cover up the graft and bribery scandals that went public on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013, but they have failed to drop the matter from the agenda, and this considerably irritates them. They do everything to change the agenda but it is all in vain. Therefore, they have concentrated their efforts on the “parallel state” allegations once again, and they have grown all the more ill-tempered due to the fact that they have to substantiate these charges.

(3) Everyone knew that a comprehensive operation would come on the first anniversary of the public exposure of the Dec. 17 and 25 bribery and graft scandals. But few presumed that this operation would target the media with frivolous allegations because they knew this would mean nothing but attack against the freedom of the press and the ruling party could not dare launch it. But we saw that the ruling party was so blinded by anger that they were unable to calculate the consequences of their moves.

(4) Democrats realized that with the recent operation against the media, the AKP not only targeted the Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu TV network, but also wanted to silence all critical people and groups. Hidayet Karaca, the head of the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group, and three police officers were arrested with frivolous and fictitious evidence on charges of “being a leader or member of an armed terrorist organization” and this is proof that the ruling party and the judiciary, which is under its control, have moved miles away from legal norms and justice.

(5) The widespread and massive reactions to the operation have urged certain members, supporters or sympathizers of the ruling party to ask themselves, “Why have we ended up in such a state?” Thousands of people gathered outside the police departments and courthouses across the country, protesting the operation by reciting verses from the Quran and chanting, “Free media cannot be silenced,” and this has had a greater impact than expected.

(6) The ruling party has also failed to correctly estimate the reactions from the United States and the European Union. “It is none of their business,” President Erdoğan said, in a show of puzzlement in the face of strong criticisms coming from the West. Turkey intends to become a member of the EU, and this is Turkey's choice, not Erdoğan's or any other political player's. Even subversive generals have not been courageous enough to burn bridges with the EU and the US. Erdoğan's attitude indicates that he is extremely puzzled, not that he is being bold.

(7) By saying, “You will be surprised more and more,” Erdoğan hinted at new operations in the making. They have to launch new operations in order to substantiate the allegations they have been voicing, but they don't know how to do it. With the Dec. 14 operation, they gambled, and they have already lost.

(8) Where is Turkey heading? Everyone -- including the AKP's voter base and excluding Erdoğan's fanatic supporters -- is asking this question day in and day out. That we have eventually come to ask this question is a source of hope for our future.

(9) It is a universal human right to resist arbitrary rule, oppression, unfairness, unlawfulness and injustice, and to promote human dignity and honor. By refusing to testify at the court he found “biased,” Karaca made everyone remember this right.

What's at stake is not the AKP, Erdoğan or the Hizmet movement; it is Turkey's future.

Published on Today's Zaman, 22 December 2014, Monday