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Army’s anti-democratic plot sparks nationwide outcry

Today's Zaman. , October 28, 2009

With the emergence of the original copy of the military plot to destroy the ruling AK Party and the faith-based Gülen movement, all eyes have turned to Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ, who is expected to either resign or disband junta groups within the army. With the emergence of the original copy of the military plot to destroy the ruling AK Party and the faith-based Gülen movement, all eyes have turned to Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ, who is expected to either resign or disband junta groups within the army.

Pressure continues to mount on Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ for necessary steps to be taken against a military plot aimed at destroying the country's ruling party and a faith-based civil society group, with a wide segment of the society -- including politicians, intellectuals and jurists -- asking the army chief to intervene and punish an anti-democratic group within the armed forces.

“The Turkish Republic cannot tolerate such a heavy cost. Nor can the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] be allowed to remain under such suspicion. Previous evaluations of the plot are now in dispute. No one should be disturbed by the emergence of the reality on the issue,” remarked Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday.

The prime minister was referring to the discovery of an original copy of a military plot, called the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism. A letter mailed to an İstanbul prosecutor by an unnamed military officer last week revealed that the plot was produced by a group of army members aiming to undermine the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Gülen movement. The officer also attached the original copy of the plot, whose authenticity was verified by a forensic examination, refuting claims that the plot was a fabrication.

“I do not want to talk to Gen. Başbuğ through the media. We have weekly meetings [with the army chief.] When I return to Turkey, we will definitely meet. This is an important issue. We will evaluate the process,” Erdoğan noted. His remarks came during a flight from Islamabad to Tehran.

The army plot was first leaked to the media in June when a Turkish daily published a photocopied version of it. The General Staff, however, denied possession of the plot and said it was a “piece of paper” aimed at undermining the credibility of the armed forces.

According to the plot, the TSK had a systematic plan to damage the image of the AK Party government and the Gülen movement in the eyes of the public, to play down the Ergenekon investigation and to gather support for members of the military arrested as part of the inquest into Ergenekon, a clandestine criminal organization accused of plotting to overthrow the government. Dozens of its suspected members are currently in jail on charges of attempting to destroy the democratic character of the republic.

President Abdullah Gül also spoke out against a military plan to interfere in the political realm, saying, “What needs to be done in a state governed by the rule of law will be done.”

İstanbul prosecutors invited six army members who the officer accused in his letter of having contributed to the preparation of the action plan to testify, but none of them have done so thus far. Prosecutors also warned that members of the military would be brought in to testify under force of police if they refuse to comply with the invitation.

Col. Dursun Çiçek, whose signature appears on the military plot, was also invited to testify. Çiçek was arrested by a civilian court in July on suspicion of being linked to the plot but was later released after his lawyer submitted an appeal. His immediate release created controversy. He also testified to Ergenekon prosecutors at that time.

On Monday evening, the TSK announced that a new military investigation was launched into the plan in order to clear up questions surrounding the plot, recalling that it had pledged in late June to take further action if new evidence pointing to the authenticity of the plot came to light.

The statement, however, was mainly criticism of the leakage of the officer’s letter to the press. “There is no doubt that it should be evaluated by legal bodies but not press organs, if a document which may stand as evidence in the issue exists. Such behavior [referring to leakage of the letter to the press] may result in a lack of confidence between institutions and cast doubts on the future of investigations. … Within this context, everyone should refrain from any act that could lead to extrajudicial executions, and those who leaked the documents to the press should be punished,” read the statement.

The Military Prosecutor’s Office asked İstanbul prosecutors yesterday to forward the original copy of the military plot, which bears a genuine signature of Col. Çiçek.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç also commented on the notorious plot and said that if there were claims that a similar document was prepared by a deputy, he would remove him from office.

“I would at least suspend his duty in office until the conclusion of an investigation. I think the esteemed commander will take necessary action,” he said. Arınç was urging Gen. Başbuğ to relieve the names behind the plot of their duties.

The AK Party parliamentary group deputy chairman, Suat Kılıç, said the plot controversy would not reach such a level today if it had been properly investigated when it first emerged in June.

“If this plot was prepared with the knowledge of the top commanders, this is grave. It is even graver if it was prepared outside of their knowledge. The TSK should immediately take action to dissipate the suspicions over itself,” he said.

In the meantime, İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Aykut Cengiz Engin had a meeting with prosecutors conducting an ongoing investigation into Ergenekon yesterday. Engin said he received information about some topics from the prosecutors but refused to elaborate on these topics.

This article was published by Today's Zaman on October 28,2009.

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