Turkey: Islamists Consolidate Power By Purging The Military

Via Big Peace:

While everyone’s eyes are on Egypt and its possible Islamization, something even more significant is going on under the wire in Turkey.

The government of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan took a major step towards consolidating its regime by conducting what amount to show trials of high ranking military officers and political opponents on charges that they attempted to overthrow Erdogan’s Islamist government in 2003.

A Turkish court ruled Friday, February 12th that 133 current and former Turkish military officers must be immediately arrested and jailed pending the outcome of their trial on charges of plotting to overthrow the government and issued warrants for the immediate arrests of 29 other officers.

The Erdogan government was obviously made aware of the ruling in advance. As soon as the ruling was issued by the bench, the court’s doors were sealed, security forces cleared the courtroom and the defendants, including the former air force and navy chiefs were immediately arrested and are being held without bail.The defendants face between 15 and 20 years in prison if convicted on charges of “attempting to topple the government by force.”

At the same time, more than 400 others — including academics, journalists, politicians and soldiers — are on trial on separate charges of plotting to bring down the government.

Both ‘conspiracies’ – dubbed “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) and “Ergenekon” – appear to be based on fairly flimsy evidence.

This is no small matter.Turkey’s 1982 constitution proclaims Turkey’s system of government as democratic, secular, and parliamentary and the country’s original Constitution makes the military the guardian of Turkey’s secular rule. The largely secular Turkish military has historically been a check on both Islamist and Leftist elements in the country.

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