Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Turkey's "Bloodless Civil War"

The Wall Street Journal's Istanbul correspondent, Marc Champion, has a terrific piece in today's paper about an ongoing court case that really goes to the heart of the current political battles that are raging in Turkey.

The case has to do with Ilhan Cihaner, until recently the respected chief prosecutor in the eastern Turkish city of Erzincan and currently under arrest and on trial for working to destabilize and perhaps overthrow Turkey's government. The case is deeply intertwined with all the big issues of day in Turkey -- Ergenekon, judicial and constitutional reform, the role of Islamic groups in political life -- with each side in the country's political divide seeing the case of proof of the correctness of their position. Ironically, from opposing perspectives both supporters of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and its secularist critics see the Cihaner case as one rife with judicial interference, prosecutorial zealotry and illegal doings.

The case is a complicated one, with -- like other Ergenekon-related cases -- many bizarre twists and turns and plenty of alleged intrigue and skullduggery. Champion does a great job in unpacking some of what's behind the case. You can find the article here -- highly recommended reading.

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