November 12, 2015

The ‘Ergenekonization’ of the state

Suat Kınıklıoğlu

It seems far-fetched but unfortunately we are seeing increasing signs of the “Ergenekonization” of the security establishment under the watch of this government.

It is public knowledge that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leadership transferred thousands of police officers and hundreds of police chiefs and judges after it was caught in the embarrassing graft scandal of Dec. 17-25, 2013. In a frantic attempt to cover up the scandal, they replaced Gülenists with Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) sympathizers as well as old militant nationalist statist types -- commonly known as Ergenekonists. A new alliance emerged within the security and judicial bureaucracy. Nationalists and Ergenekonists were embraced once again on the condition that they join the witch hunt against Gülenists. For a while, this alliance seemed to work well. Gülenists were rooted out of critical positions and the government was able to cover up the Dec. 17-25 files and stop any legal proceedings, including financial inspections of its lavish spending in the bureaucracy.

However, since the beginning of this year we have been seeing signs that things are getting out of hand. During the election campaign many “embedded nationalists” known for their MHP identity were calling on their supporters to vote for the AKP. To their sympathizers, they were arguing that the AKP had turned nationalist and that they had “become the AKP.” They said: “Vote for the AKP because we are the AKP!” As the election result has shown, it certainly worked in many quarters. Look at how the government is treating the Kurdish question. See how security forces are treating the local population in the region. Examine the cases whereby a new nationalist and harsh style has overtaken the fight against terrorism. This is no joke: The Ergenekonists are back.

They are terrorizing the population and handling security operations with a heavy hand, often creating more enemies of the state than eliminating them. We do not know but once this era is over we will of course find out what sort of intelligence failures were at play in the Ankara bombing as well as the Suruç suicide attack. I hope I will be alive to find out who the mastermind behind these bombings was.

The new tone within the security establishment is also visible in the government's treatment of the Gülen movement. Many citizens were shocked to see women who are part of the movement handcuffed and taken into custody in broad daylight in Manisa. While Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) members are escorted without handcuffs to police stations, women whose sole crime is to work for the Gülen movement found themselves handcuffed as though they were dangerous criminals. When public reaction mounted over this scandal, the Manisa police chief was removed from his job, but it is a very good example demonstrating the extent to which the alliance between the government and the Ergenekonists has matured.

Also, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's statement in the aftermath of the incident was as problematic as his Ergenekonist police chiefs' handling our citizens. His discrimination against women who do not wear headscarves is yet another scandalous statement, underscoring the subconscious mentality of his government. What does this mean? Does wearing a headscarf define the type of treatment the police is supposed to hand out to our citizens? Simply ridiculous.

Let me conclude with an expression of writer and thinker Dücane Cündioğlu: “No one can control the state; in the end the state controls everyone.” I tend to agree with him. The AKP government thinks they are in control, but when they realize what is at play it will most likely be too late.

Published on Today's Zaman, 12 November 2015, Thursday