Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Deep State

    Sunday, March 11, 2012   No comments

by Dexter Filkins

ABSTRACT: When Erdoğan and his comrades in the A.K. Party came to power, there were widespread concerns that, as ardent Islamists, they were intent on foisting a religious regime on secular Turkey. Erdoğan, for his part, feared the resistance of what is commonly referred to as derin devlet, the “deep state.” The deep state is a presumed clandestine network of military officers and their civilian allies who, for decades, suppressed and sometimes murdered dissidents, Communists, reporters, Islamists, Christian missionaries, and members of minority groups—anyone thought to pose a threat to the secular order, established in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal, or Atatürk. Friends and colleagues say Erdoğan worried that the deep state would never allow him to govern. But, to the surprise of many, he has pulled Turkey closer to the West, opening up the economy and becoming a crucial go-between for the West with Palestine, Iran, and Syria. In the eyes of American and European leaders, Erdoğan has fashioned Turkey into an indispensable Islamic democracy, offering a potential example for Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria. Erdoğan has even dared to surprise his countrymen by reassessing painful chapters in Turkish history. But Erdoğan’s rule has another, darker side, which the West seems intent on ignoring: an increasingly harsh campaign to crush domestic opposition. In the past five years, more than seven hundred people have been arrested, including generals, admirals, members of parliament, newspaper editors and other journalists, owners of television networks, directors of charitable organizations, and university officials. The American response to this intensifying repression has been tepid. President Barack Obama has developed a close relationship with Erdoğan, whom he regards as a dynamic and democratically minded leader. One explanation for American passivity, repeated by a number of Turks, is that Obama is desperate for allies in the Muslim world and is determined to hold on to Erdoğan as a friend in an increasingly combustible region. And yet some Turks compare Erdoğan’s Turkey less to the democracies of the West than to the Russian and Chinese models, in which free-market economics are championed and domestic dissent is repressed. Tells about the police investigations into a mysterious group called Ergenekon. Prosecutors maintain that Ergenekon is the deep state itself—a shadow government that aims at making Turkish democracy permanently unstable. Also discusses Fethullah Gülen, an influential Muslim preacher who lives in Pennsylvania and oversees a worldwide religious and educational organization. Mentions Erdoğan’s recent crackdown on the leaders of Turkey’s Kurdish minority. After nearly ten years in power, Erdoğan has no coherent opposition; the conventional wisdom is that only a slowing economy could bring him down.


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