Who is afraid of Erbakan?

Developing Just Leadership

Ahmad Irfan

Dhu al-Qa'dah 23, 1417 1997-04-01

Special Reports

by Ahmad Irfan (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 26, No. 3, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1417)

A battle is coming to a head in Turkey. A battle which may release the republic from the clutches of the local and international Mafia or it may lose for Turks the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and lead to the eventual creation of a Kurdish entity- a second break-up of the Great Turkish state. Like the Greek junta in 1967, a group of Turkish generals in 1997 is itching to overthrow the country’s elected government led by a pro-Islamic Refah Party. It may not be as crude a coup as the one by Papadopoulos, but a coup nevertheless. Washington Post has already said it is a: ‘soft coup’. Turkey needed a forced change of government for more reasons than one, but the British newspaper has been quite honest in mentioning the unfinished business of the `Eastern Question’.

Two weeks before the Refah-True Path coalition took office on 28 June last year, Israeli President Ezer Weizman flew especially to Turkey ‘to probe’ the possibility of ‘what will happen if Turkey’s next prime minister is Necmettin Erbakan, the leader of the Islamic party’. On the plane en route to Istanbul, he told Yitzhak Feller of Israel: `I know President Sulaiman Demirel very well and I think he will do everything in his power to prevent such a development from coming about. I assume the army will not sit idly by either. Hence, at this point it makes no sense to make assessments based on fear.’

Weizman’s friend, Demirel, the Baba, also a freemason, had already been doing ‘everything in his power’ to prevent Erbakan from forming a government. The ‘army’ too were not sitting ‘idly by either’, even though the Baba’s as well as the generals position had become a little awkward because the news of Israeli president’s imperious remarks had been broadcast (Voice of Israel, Jerusalem, in Hebrew 1205 gmt, 11 June 1996) and picked up by the Turkish media. The Israeli embassy in Ankara thinly denied its own radio’s report and said Weizman’s words merely referred to what was published in the Turkish newspapers.

However, Erbakan became prime minister because the improbable had happened: the True Path Party (DYP) leader, Tansu Ciller, agreed to join a coalition under the ‘fundamentalist’ Erbakan. Weizman’s ‘fear’ had come true which meant that this government had to be removed from power, democratically or otherwise. Therefore, all the Weizman’s friends in Turkey, Demirel, the pro-zionist generals, the media, the Mafia et al, got on to the job of not only throwing out Refah from power, but also to purge Islam from Turkish society - so that they will never have another Refah.

They were pretty certain that Erbakan would take a ‘radical’ Islamic course and so very soon they would be able to dismiss the government and even outlaw the Refah Party. The ‘Hoca’, as Erbakan is generally called, did not oblige them. He went on to address himself to the structural problems in the Turkish economy. He concentrated on good governance, and kept himself strictly within the parameters of the given Turkish constitution. But being a moderate, the Hoca came to be regarded as really dangerous.

Still they expected the coalition to crumble within weeks. The two parties had quite different social and political outlook. Moreover, they also hoped, the coalition won’t be able to tackle the serious problems in domestic policy as well as international relations.

The media barons were at hand to orchestrate a shrill and provocative campaign against Erbakan that he had reneged on his ‘radical’ Islamic agenda. But there was yet a more powerful war against Ciller; she was accused of selling her ‘secular’ soul and become a ‘slave’ of the Hoca. Yet not only the coalition endured, Ciller gave her detractors the shock of their lives by declaring that ‘this government will remain in power until the year 2000’ and they ‘may even enter into an election alliance with the Refah Party.’

The year 2000 was a little three years ahead, but the Refah-True Path coalition had already taken a few initiatives that were enough to raise alarms in a few powerful quarters, beyond Cankaya and Tel Aviv. Instead of breaking off political and economic relations with the US and the European Union (EU), a self-confident Refah-DYP government was now speaking face to face with supposedly friendly Western governments and reminding them of their treaty obligations towards Turkey. Please, no more thin excuses, it was saying.

Turkey had applied for full EU (then EEC) membership in April 1987. Tansu Ciller now told both EU and Nato leaders that if Turkey’s name was not added to the list of the prospective EU members, then she would have no choice but to veto their proposed enlargement of Nato to include members of the former Communist bloc. Because the enlargement of Nato had security implications of Turkey as well and it cannot be separated from the question of Turkey’s membership of the European Union.

The decision on admitting new members to Nato is going to be taken next July which made July 1997 the deadline for the EU/Nato powers well before which Ankara should have a new government. It is probable that having made its point, Turkey might have chosen not to exercise its veto right, but the ‘offence’ had already been caused by the use of the word ‘veto’.

Turkey has done nothing to alter its basically pro-western foreign policy, nor does anti-westernism seem to be any part of Erbakan’s policy agenda. However, Turkey also wants to pursue a pro-Turkish foreign policy. Therefore, while keeping its old alliances intact, Turkey is also trying to earn its own honest living in the new market economy. But the think tanks in Washington accuse Erbakan of changing the direction of Turkish foreign policy.

Turkey has made a $23 bn, 23-year natural gas contract, with Iran with a view to diversifying its supply sources. Since the natural gas is going to be piped from Iran to Turkey, it will be 30% cheaper than Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) delivered by tanker. Construction of the pipeline is expected to begin in about four weeks, but the US claims it was tantamount to skirting American sanctions against Iran, or at least it gave encouragement to a state which was on its list of terrorists states.

There are quite a few EU countries that are doing direct business with Iran; even American companies were doing business with the `terrorist state’ through proxy companies. However, the US wants Turkey to buy natural gas from countries other than Iran; like for example, the Caspian Sea, Algeria and Abu Dhabi, Egypt and Nigeria, Yemen and Qatar - from anywhere but the nearest source. Turkey has to import 58% of its energy needs and it does not exclude buying natural gas from any of these sources. It intends to buy 4bn cubic meters natural gas each from Yemen and Egypt and another 2bn cubic meters from Nigeria. Indeed soon after the Iranian deal, Turkey signed another agreement for a yearly purchase 10m cubic meters of natural gas from Egypt. But Israeli energy business considered it as a slap on their face.

If the threat to veto the enlargement of Nato and a gas agreement with Iran were considered objectionable what probably did still more alarm America and the European Union was Erbakan’s constant refrain on a just order. Beyond talk, he had taken practical steps to organise a 800 million-strong economic community stretching from Indonesia to Nigeria, the ‘Developing 8’ or D-8 in short. The D-8 and G-7 will, in his vision, come together to establish a just order for the entire humanity. But who wants a just order? Certainly not those who are the masters and beneficiaries of the unjust world order. A summit conference of the D-8 countries is expected to be held later this year and whichever came first the Nato meeting in July or the D-8 summit, it seems a fair guess that attempts will be made to topple the Erbakan government well before the first event.

President Weizman wasn’t an uninterested party either. Indeed being the regional ‘super power’, Israel considered Turkey as much a Zionist protectorate as Yasir Arafat’s feeble Palestinian Authority. The concept of Israel’s security is based on the insecurity of all the other states not only in the region but it extended to what Ariel Sharon defined as Israel’s strategic swathe from Pakistan to Sudan. This implied that there should be no country within that swathe which should be able to stand up to Israeli dictates. Turkey was no exception and indeed Israel has moved pretty fast over the past one year to bring Turkey under its military tutelage.

It could only happen in Turkey that unknown and unreported to the elected political authority, Turkish generals have been making all kinds of military and political agreements with Israel. The most recent pilgrim to Israel was chief of the General Staff, General Hakki Karadayi. Indifferent and unconcerned about what was going on at the very time in Jerusalem, he waxed eloquent about ‘organic, moral and emotional ties’ (sic) that he said ‘exist between Turkey and Israel’. Karadayi was speaking at a dinner hosted by his Israeli counterpart, General Amnon Shahaq. (TRT Radio, Ankara, in Turkish 0530 gmt, 26 February 1997)

Karadayi also met Israeli president, prime minister and minister of

defence. It is interesting that though Karadayi felt proud about his ‘organic, moral and emotional ties’ with Israel still the Israelis were not prepared to trust Turkey. The Israeli newspaper,Ha’aretz (24 February 1997) journalist told him that ‘in Israel, it is feared that strengthening relations with Turkey will lead to the transfer of information to third countries’.

Karadayi was returning from Israel on the 27th and the Turkish National Security Council (MGK) was meeting the next day. Its not so secret agenda, according to Turkish and Western was supposed to serve notice on Erbakan either to mend his ‘fundamentalist’ ways - or else! Having tried all other less crude ways and provocation to force Erbakan out of power, they seem now so desperate that they would not mind making a plain ‘coup’, preferably soft, but bloody if necessary.

Karadayi’s deputy, General Cevik Bir, says he regards the ‘reactionaries’, i.e. Muslims, in his dictionary, to be a greater threat to Turkey than the PKK Kurdish separatists. Because of his rather un-Turkish surname, some people suspect Cevik Bir to be a donme (crypto-Jew) or someone who was not really Turkish and, if so, he could be correct from the ways he may be looking at things. One likely name to head a so-called grand national coalition, that sources in Ankara believe the generals are plotting to move, is that of a former DYP deputy, Imre Gunensoy. He is also believed to be a donme.

But Turkey’s crypto military junta seems to be rather uneducated in its own history. It imagines that it would be able to purge Turkey of its Islamic personality by removing Erbakan or suppressing Refah, but Islam did not begin with Erbakan or Refah. It is Islam that produced them and it would go on producing Erbakans and Refahs if that was their problem. However, the junta seems to be totally ignorant of the terrible and recurring cost that Turkey has been paying for its slavish obsession with the antiquated post-Christian idea of laicism. A world power until the first decade of this century, in 75 years they have turned Turkey into an European ‘outcaste’.

If the pashas of Turkey want now to imitate Saddam Pasha and pick up a fight with Iran because they think it would endear them to the super and big powers, so it may be; only that they would be leading the way to a further break up of Turkey and creation of a Kurdish entity in the region. ‘The Eastern Question has returned in all its historical complexity and danger.’

Courtesy: Impact International, London.

Muslimedia - April 1-15, 1997

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