A recent decision by a public prosecutor’s office to drop a five-year case investigating top-secret documents found at a Turkish military headquarters has revived suspicions that now-defunct Gladio-type illegal structures from the Cold War years within NATO might still be alive in this member of the alliance.
Counter-Guerrilla was the name of the Turkish branch of Operation Gladio, a clandestine anti-communist initiative within NATO backed by the US during the Cold War years to counter also a possible Soviet invasion at the time.
There is a general belief that although Gladio-type illegal structures were disbanded in all NATO countries after the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, ending the Cold War, the counter-guerilla structure has not been purged in Turkey.
Early last week, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office dropped an investigation initiated in 2009 over allegations that a group of officers within the Turkish military was planning to assassinate Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, claiming that there was no such plot. So, it also dropped the investigation into findings from the “Cosmic rooms” of the Turkish Armed Forces’ (TSK) Tactical Mobilization Group (STK), where top secret documents said to be related to the Turkish military’s operational plans were kept.
As part of the earlier investigation, a Turkish prosecutor and judge conducted searches in 2009 and 2010 at the STK, marking the first time that civilian prosecutors and judges had entered a top-secret section of a military facility, even though this was initially met with great resistance by the military.
However, as Mustafa Bilgili, the prosecutor of the investigation at the time, said in a recent interview, he was allowed to conduct searches to trace the alleged assassination attempt only in limited sections of the cosmic rooms.
According to the March 12 editions of the Cumhuriyet and Milliyet dailies, quoting excerpts from the investigation dropped recently by the prosecutor’s office, the examinations of findings from even the limited areas of the STK have been such as to prompt us to draw conclusions that the Turkish military is still involved in designing secret plans over counter-guerilla activities.
Both dailies published documents found during the search of the cosmic rooms which discuss how civilians can be mobilized against certain target nations as well as against groups inside the country. Civilians from every walk of life — lawyers, judges, journalists, mayors, governors, university rectors, student councils etc. — are categorized under different colors in accordance with their tasks of monitoring political parties, tariqats, minorities, political parties’ vote potential, as well as the creation of new guerilla units.
However, these details obtained from the investigation have not caused alarm or concern within society that the TSK might still be busying itself with internal subversive activities. Instead, for instance, the military released a statement last Friday saying that it would file a criminal complaint against the unauthorized persons who revealed the confidential documents that were obtained during the search of the cosmic rooms of the STK and later kept in the secure room of the courthouse.
Neither the government nor opposition parties has made any attempt to ask the military to explain the reasons behind possible plans recalling Gladio-type structures that might exist within the TSK.
Moreover, in its decision to drop the investigation, the chief public prosecutor’s office failed to unearth, among other things, then-prosecutor Bilgili’s decision to widen the investigation into alleged coup plot plans as well as unresolved murders. The office is also understood not to have probed the threats that Bilgili and a judge received at the time they were looking into the “cosmic case.”
It was not long ago — to be exact, back in November 2012 — when a parliamentary commission released a 145-page report urging both the government and the legislative assembly to take the necessary steps to prevent the repetition of military coups as well as other undemocratic activities.
The Coup and Memorandum Investigation Commission, for instance, said in its report that the STK of the General Staff has never been subjected to the inspection and control of civilian authority. “The documents relevant to unresolved murders in those cosmic rooms should be investigated and these institutions should be subjected to a thorough review,” Nimet Baş, a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), urged at the time.
At the time when this commission was set up and produced important conclusions as well as policy suggestions, the ruling AKP had not yet distanced itself from democratic governance, appearing to be firm on ending the military tutelage system that has hijacked Turkish democracy since the first coup of 1960. Today, however, Turkish democracy has further regressed under this same ruling party, making discussions on how to improve democracy — interrupted by three military coups — a thing of the past.
Now there is real concern that the government has, in fact, been sweeping the military’s secret reports — which might have a damaging effect on society — under the carpet.
March 16, 2015, Monday
© Feza Gazetecilik A.Ş. 2007