Gareth Jenkins remains the most astute and knowledgeable analyst of Turkey's political-military trials. He has been attacked relentlessly by Gulenists and others close to the government because of his critical views on these trials. But because he sticks to the facts -- he knows Turkish well and reads the indictments closely -- and is well-informed about the Turkish political scene, his credibility remains undiminished.
Jenkins' latest piece offers a very useful overview of the trials and their political background. Jenkins is no friend of the Turkish military. He makes clear that the "deep state" was/is a reality and that many in the military were involved in extra-judicial killings and other crimes. But he minces no words on the reality behind the Ergenekon-Sledgehammer trials:
"In a country where conspiracy theories are rife and where the Turkish military has a record of intervening in the political arena, initially at least, many were prepared to take the allegations at face value. However, as the investigations progressed, another–more disturbing–picture began to emerge. From the outset, the investigations were characterized by outlandish claims and numerous abuses of due process. The indictments against the accused ran to thousands of pages. Yet not only were they riddled with absurdities and contradictions, but they contained no convincing proof that either the Ergenekon organization or the coup plot existed. On the contrary, some of the evidence adduced to support the prosecutors' claims had clearly been fabricated.
Equally troubling was the profile of the accused, particularly in the Ergenekon case. Not only was there no proof that they were members of Ergenekon but they held disparate views, covering almost the entire political spectrum except for the Islamist right. Indeed, the only characteristic that the accused all appeared to share was an opposition to the JDP; and particularly to the movement inspired by the exiled Islamist preacher Fethullah Gulen, which has been the JDP's more important political ally.
Although the JDP [the governing Justice and Development Party] has undoubtedly benefited politically from Ergenekon and Sledgehammer–not least because they have made many of its opponents reluctant to criticize the JDP for fear of being arrested–the government appears to be allowing the cases to proceed rather micromanaging or actively driving them. Exactly who is behind the cases remains a topic of often heated debate, but most critics blame the FGM [the Fethullah Gulen movement].
To date, no evidence has emerged to tie Fethullah Gulen, who has been living in Pennsylvania in the United States since 1999, personally to the investigations. Nevertheless, there is no question that elements from within the FGM community are heavily involved. Gulen sympathizers now dominate large swathes of the judiciary and the police force, particularly the intelligence branches, which have been providing most of the evidence for the investigations. Since the outset, the FGM's media outlets have sought to shape domestic and international public opinion about the cases by running vigorous disinformation campaigns, including inaccuracies, distortions and outright untruths. They have also mobilized their resources to launch vicious defamation campaigns against anyone who criticizes or questions the investigations.
Nor is it possible to ignore the regularity with which, particularly since 2009, the Ergenekon investigation has targeted the FGM's critics and rivals. Through early 2011, there were increasing signs that, even in a country as awash with conspiracy theories as Turkey, the public was finally beginning to question the plausibility of the outlandish claims made for Ergenekon and Sledgehammer. Similarly, the frenzied coverage of the investigations in the FGM media and the consistency with which they targeted the movement's rivals and opponents for arrest and imprisonment was increasingly looking like a coincidence too far."
A coincidence too far indeed.