Socialist Worker

Turkey: cracks in the state monolith

Ron Margulies reports from Turkey, where a lively week has seen two court cases that could determine the fate of the Islamic leaning government – and a plot by nationalists to initiate a coup

Issue No. 2113

Over the past 15 months a fight between the Turkish government and sections of the state apparatus has revealed deep cracks in the official ideology of the country and its monolithic state structures.

In the first case, Turkey’s chief prosecutor published an indictment against a section of what is widely called the “deep state” – an alliance of the army, sections of the bureaucracy and semi-official hit squads.

The prosecutor revealed what he claims is a “terrorist organisation” of 86 people arrested in recent months.

Among those accused of plotting a coup are retired generals, journalists, professors, lawyers, and members of the supposedly left wing Workers Party.


They are accused of plotting to overthrow the government, carrying out murders and bombings, and attempting to create political chaos in order to prepare the ground for a military coup.

The 2,500 page document reveals in terrifying detail the murky world where the secret services and nationalist organisations merge.

The same prosecutor is preparing an indictment against two retired five-star generals. One is the former chief of staff of the land forces and the other is head of the gendarmerie – a military force used to police civilians. Both men are under arrest for their part in plotting a coup in 2003 and 2004.

The second case was brought by the nationalists in an attempt to close down the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

This case alleges that the party is “the focus of anti-secularist activities” and is therefore illegal under Turkey’s secular constitution.

The two court cases are widely perceived as being a case of tit-for-tat struggle between the “secular state” and the “Islamic government”.


The AKP comes from a different political tradition to the secular Turkish nationalists, who have run the state under the ideology of Kemalism – named after Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

It is a conservative, neoliberal party with Islamic roots. But it has been attempting to find solutions to key questions that have dogged modern Turkey.

These include the question of Cyprus, Kurdish rebels and open discussion on the fate of Armenians massacred during the founding of the republic in the early 20th century.

Turkey’s constitutional court rejected demands that the party be closed down, but it has deprived the AKP of state funding.

Two days before the court ruling there was a “no to the military coup” demonstration through the capital Ankara. This follows a huge protest in Istanbul last month.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 5 Aug 2008, 17:37 BST
Issue No. 2113
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.