ISTANBUL – The current tensions in Turkey are often seen as a power struggle between the army and the government of Prime Minister Erdogan. Unjustified, say several Turkish opinion makers: it’s a struggle for real democracy.
Earlier this week, once again dozens of (high-ranking) military personnel, some retired and some still on active duty, were arrested for alleged links with Balyoz (“Sledgehammer”), a coup plan dating from 2003. Sedat Laciner, academician and director of USAK, a think tank in Ankara: ‘Many in the armed forces still think they can impose their will on Turkey with a military coup. But Turkey is going democratic and the army too has to modernise and its power has to be decreased. They resist that.’
The arrests just mean that the era of committing coups and getting away with it is over, wrote columnist Ahmet Altan recently in Taraf, the paper that first revealed the Balyoz plans and is on the army’s heels constantly: ‘The outcome of this struggle will determine how Turkey looks in the future: will it be a state of law where also the army has to has to take responsibility, or not?’
It all has nothing to do with the AKP government, which some say would like to introduce sharia law, claims Laciner: ‘There are some Islamists in the AKP, but its a centre-right government.’ The AKP was voted in again in 2007, despite a strong warning from the army. Ahmet Altan writes in his column: ‘Those elections were not so much won by the AKP, but lost by those who think the army is above the law.’ The Turkish people, in the view of both men, is fed up with it. It’s ready for real democracy.