News / Middle East

    Turkey Fears 'Deep State' Return

    Hundreds of protesters march to mark the seventh anniversary of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink's murder in Ankara, Turkey, Jan.19, 2014.
    Hundreds of protesters march to mark the seventh anniversary of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink's murder in Ankara, Turkey, Jan.19, 2014.
    Dorian Jones
    The release of retired senior military figures and crime bosses in Turkey is prompting concern that the country's so-called "deep state" could return. 

    A legal reform introduced by the Turkish government has seen dozens of retired military officers and members of the country’s criminal underworld released from jail. Many have been convicted of crimes linked to what prosecutors have termed “Derin Devlet” or deep state - unofficial networks of power that prosecutors claim are responsible for political assassinations of people considered enemies of the state.

    Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul Policy Forum said the releases were worrisome.

    "The Turkish public opinion is extremely worried about these releases because these people might think about taking revenge in the months to come," said Aktar.

    Among those released are people convicted of assassinating prominent Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Prosecutors allege that the killers of three missionaries also have been released. Others are accused of forming death squads within the security forces.

    But human rights groups said most of the victims of crimes committed by Turkey’s so-called “deep state” were activists fighting for Kurdish minority rights, especially during the 1990s at the height of fighting between the Turkish state and the Kurdish rebel group PKK.

    Several offices of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party have been attacked by Turkish nationalists this month during local election campaigns. The party’s leader, Ertugrul Kurkcu, said the deep state organization was involved.

    "This group is the major mastermind behind these attacks. They, of course, did not lead those attacks, while they were in prison. But this is the remnants of this group which has been very active in the past atrocities against the Kurds and democrats," he said.

    Kurkcu and many other political observers said the government has released individuals linked to Turkey’s deep state in a bid to enlist its support in its battle against followers of an Islamic cleric, Fetullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States. The government accused his followers of infiltrating sections of judiciary and police.

    Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar of Carnegie Europe, doubted the government would take such a risky move. He blamed the releases on shortcomings within the judiciary.

    "From the standpoint from the government this was also an unwanted development because most of Turkish society is critical with this development," he said. "Certainly some of the people have been associated with Turkey’s deep state, can regroup. But I don’t think that’s possible anymore because there has been fundamental change in the civil military relationship and that will not change."

    Political scientist Aktar acknowledged that Turkey has changed from the time when the military directly intervened in politics. But he said with the government having purged thousands of polices officers and members of the judiciary in its battle against Gulen's followers, Turkey remains vulnerable to political intrigue.

    "The police and justice have been shaken and destabilized. Therefore we don’t know who will ensure the public order, with that many criminals there in the streets of the country. It's very worrisome," said Aktar.

    Human rights groups accused Turkey’s "deep state" of thousands of political deaths and disappearances during the 1990s.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora