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‘Deep state plot’ grips Turkey

ICC Note

A group linked to murder of three Christians and Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink is plotting to carry out coup in Turkey .

By Sarah Rainsford

February 04, 2008 Turkey (BBC News)- It is a story that has set Turkey abuzz with rumour and speculation.

At its heart is an ultra-nationalist gang known as Ergenekon, exposed when 33 of its alleged members were seized in a police raid in late January.


They allege the gang was plotting to bring down the government.

It is claimed their plan was to assassinate a string of Turkish intellectuals, including Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, fomenting chaos and provoking a military intervention in 2009.


Sabah newspaper linked the gang to the recent murder of three Protestant Christians and Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.


Those still detained include retired Brig Gen Veli Kucuk, an alleged mafia boss and an ultra-nationalist lawyer who provoked numerous prosecutions against prominent Turkish writers and intellectuals – including Mr Pamuk – for “insulting Turkishness”.

‘Deep state’

A brief statement at the outset linked the arrests to a raid in Istanbul last June. A large cache of hand grenades and explosives was discovered; then and a number of former military personnel detained.


From the start, this operation has been portrayed as a blow against the “deep state” – which explains the excitement.

It is a term widely used to describe renegade members of the security forces said to act outside the law in what they judge to be Turkey ‘s best interests.


For ultra-nationalists today the threats to Turkey include EU accession, Armenian genocide allegations and any talk of a peace deal to end the 24-year-old Kurdish insurgency.

‘Under watch’

In 1996, many Turks’ suspicions of a “deep state” were confirmed when a car crashed in the town of Susurluk . Inside were a senior police chief, a prominent politician and a wanted assassin.

“Susurluk revealed weird connections between state officials and those who operate outside the limits of the law. It happened at a time when we had a lot of extra-judicial killings in Turkey ,” Mr Candar explains.


Army rebuttal

Mr Bozan also raises the possibility the operation is part of a continuing power struggle between a government led by devout Muslims and a staunchly secular military.


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