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

    Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Video Canine Reading Buddies Help Students With Literacy

    Idea behind reading program is that sharing book with nonjudgmental companion boosts students' confidence and helps instill love of reading

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora