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Turkish Studies
ISSN: 1468-3849 (Print) 1743-9663 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ftur20
Ergenekon, New Pacts, and the Decline of the
Turkish “Inner State”
Ersel Aydinli
To cite this article: Ersel Aydinli (2011) Ergenekon, New Pacts, and the Decline of the Turkish
“Inner State”, Turkish Studies, 12:2, 227-239, DOI: 10.1080/14683849.2011.572630
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14683849.2011.572630
Published online: 01 Jul 2011.
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Download by: [Bilkent University]
Date: 04 February 2016, At: 05:14
Turkish Studies
Vol. 12, No. 2, 227 – 239, June 2011
Ergenekon, New Pacts, and the Decline
of the Turkish “Inner State”
ERSEL AYDINLI
Downloaded by [Bilkent University] at 05:14 04 February 2016
Department of International Relations, Bilkent University
ABSTRACT This article looks at both the direct question of the Turkish military’s changing
role in Turkish politics as specifically reflected in its reaction to the Ergenekon investigation,
and more broadly at the recent face of pact-making in Turkey. It explores the nature of current
pacts with respect to Turkish civil-military relations, and questions whether these pacts may
actually be evidence of a deeper consolidation of Turkish democracy and the emergence of
a new Turkish State.
In democratization processes, the key question with respect to democratic pacts is not
their role in initiating democratic transitions but whether so-called “pacted transitions” are just another way of explaining the evolution of limited democracies.
While pacts have long been considered crucial in making transitions away from
authoritarian regimes,1 they have also included a sense of limitation—limiting the
scope of change and limiting the actors involved. While these have been considered
positive attributes, particularly the restricting of pact partners to moderates on both
sides,2 the narrowness aspect can also be seen as perhaps contributing to one of
the most criticized aspects of pacts, namely that they may prevent further democratic
consolidation by locking in existing privileges and potentially nondemocratic practices for certain people.3
This article looks therefore not only at the direct question of the Turkish military’s
changing role in Turkish politics as specifically reflected in its reaction to the Ergenekon investigation, but more broadly at the recent face of pact-making in Turkey. It
explores the nature of current pacts in Turkish civil-military relations, and questions
whether these pacts may constitute a movement beyond the limited and restricting
pacts of early stages of democratic transition, and whether they may, in fact, be evidence of pact making for deeper consolidation of Turkish democracy. First, however,
the following section turns back to events since the mid-1990s that seem to have
rendered it possible for a potentially new kind of pacts to be made and, ultimately,
for the launching of the Ergenekon investigation.
Correspondence Address: Ersel Aydınlı, Department of International Relations, Bilkent University, 06800
Bilkent, Ankara, Turkey. Email: [email protected]
ISSN 1468-3849 Print/1743-9663 Online/11/020227–13 # 2011 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/14683849.2011.572630
228
E. Aydınlı
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From February 28, 1997 to Ergenekon
In February 1997, Turkey experienced an intriguingly new form of coup. The country
had experienced classic military interventions in 1960 and 1980, in which the military
took power into its own hands. In contrast, the so-called February 28 process was
more subtle, as absolutist4 members of the military, including commanders such as
Çevik Bir, tried to galvanize like-minded affiliates within the media, higher education, the business chambers, unions, and even politicians,5 to block the existing
government from exercising power. In essence, the military encouraged and coordinated a societal reaction against the Islamist Welfare Party-led government of
Necmettin Erbakan, leading to society-wide protests against the government. It
was within such a context that the military, during a National Security Council
meeting on February 28, 1997 presented the government with a list of measures
that the government should take. On this list were a number of items that would
have been virtual political suicide for the Welfare Party to comply with (e.g.
education reform requiring the extension of compulsory education for an additional
three years, and thus requiring the closure of the middle three grades of the prayer
leader and preacher schools). Unable to go along with or stand up against the
concerted pressure in question, Erbakan was essentially forced to step down.
A new government, one more palatable for the military, came to power. This indirect
and obviously more subtle style of intervention led some journalists to label that
intervention as a post-modern coup.
With respect to the unfavorable effects of the intervention of February 28, two
things become clear. First, the heretofore most trusted Turkish institution, the military, began to lose trust among significant portions of the society, leading to an unprecedented questioning of the military’s motivations and actions vis-a`-vis Turkish
society and politics.6 Secondly, the military was exposed as no longer being the
homogeneous institution it had been considered during and after the 1980 coup.
February 28’s revealing of non-hierarchical initiatives from within the military, the
excessive visibility of the army’s number-two general in the Office of the General
Staff, Çevik Bir, showed that the army was being pushed for such action by a
strong clique within the ranks and that there was in fact a heterogeneity within the
military.
Some six years after the February 28 process, this particular tendency increasingly
was displayed in different ways, and ultimately led to unprecedented changes both in
perceptions of the military and its position in Turkish politics and society as well as
within the relations between the military and the civilian government. Signs of the
military’s dividedness could be first discerned from a dual discourse evident in the
¨ zko¨k, then Chief of General Staff,
military leadership. In May 2003, Hilmi O
openly described the military’s relationship with the Islamist-leaning Justice and
Development Party (AKP) government as harmonious,7 but at the same time,
made public declarations about the threat of regressive Islam and assured the
public that the Turkish Armed Forces would monitor any such developments with
¨ zko¨k revealed how he and other gradualists
utmost diligence. With these words, O
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Ergenekon, New Pacts, and the Decline of the Turkish “Inner State”
229
in the military were in favor of cooperating with the civilian government, but were far
from being in a position that would allow them to ignore the military’s absolutist