Behind Coups

FETO and 17 December 2013

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With the referendum on 12 September 2010, significant constitutional amendments were made, especially with regards to the judiciary. Turning these amendments into an opportunity, FETO began to dominate the judicial bureaucracy after the security bureaucracy. It managed to take control of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) through the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer operations undertaken specifically against nationalist military officers. Infiltrating the most strategic state institutions, FETO set the number one item on its agenda as increasing the number of its staff in state institutions and benefiting from state sources.

FETO considered the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) as the only strategic institution that it could not overtake. Opposing the talks initiated by Turkey for the disarmament of the terrorist organization PKK to solve the problem of terrorism, FETO targeted the MIT. Both on TV and in newspapers and also on social media, FETO journalists, writers and academics stated that the MIT wanted to divide Turkey. FETO members writing that the MIT and the PKK were acting together claimed that the terrorist actions carried out by the PKK were within the MIT’s knowledge. However, then-PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan realized what the operation intended and took the necessary measures to expel FETO, which penetrated the state. He reacted against the planned arrest of MIT members by prosecutors known to be members of FETO and he made it obligatory to get the approval of the Prime Minister’s Office before bringing a criminal prosecution against MIT members. Hence, Erdoğan prevented FETO prosecutors from arresting MIT members appointed by the government to solve Turkey’s terror problem. In 2012, as a measure, Erdoğan also abolished special courts, which were also in the hands of FETO. Taking an action upon Erdoğan recognizing the FETO threat, FETO attempted a coup on 17 December 2013 for the resignation of the government. It  trusted its staff that had already infiltrated strategic state institutions and the international support behind it to make the coup attempt successful.

On the morning of December 17, many people including a mayor, children of ministers, businessmen and bureaucrats were taken into custody in Istanbul. Yet the operation was unknown to the Governor, the Police Chief, and even the Istanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor, to whom the prosecutor was accountable. This was not a usual proceeding. This was not a usual practice following the legal steps of detention. The public was concerned that this was planned as more of a political operation rather than a legal investigation. The second wave of the coup attempt was staged on 25 December 2013. This time, the people who were in the immediate circle of Erdoğan, including his son, were called to give a statement. Immediately after this, a warrant was issued for the arrest of many businessmen, especially Nihat Özdemir, Cemal Kalyoncu, Ömer Faruk Kalyoncu, Mehmet Cengiz, Abdullah Tivnikli, Cengiz Akturk, and Mustafa Latif Topbaş. These people were involved in the projects for the airport with the greatest passenger capacity in the world, the widest suspension bridge of the world, and highways of a monumental size.

Going down in history as a legal scandal, the December 17 case was not entered into the National Judiciary Informatics System (uYAP), where all legal cases are registered and can be tracked. This also shows that those undertaking the operation wanted to keep it as a secret. For example; the senior members of the police force were not informed about the operation. The people mentioned in the case file were wiretapped for months under fake names. Furthermore, three irrelevant case files were reserved and then united, and an operation was undertaken for the three on the same day. The biggest scandal was that the expression ‘The then Prime Minister’ was used in the case file to refer to PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was claimed to be corrupt. Unlawful acts of the prosecutors known as FETO members by the public indicated that the December 17 operations had nothing to do with corruption and on the contrary, they aimed to intervene in democratic politics.

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