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The Assassination Attempt on Erdogan: A Menagerie of Tropes

February 2, 2011

There were reports on Tuesday that MIT (no, not the Boston MIT, the Turkish CIA-type thing) broke up an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Erdogan sometime in 2007. That in itself isn’t exactly news, I mean, EVERY leader of a country gets some assassination attempts. The news-worthy part is that the assassination attempt is linked to the Ergenekon plot.

“But of course it’s linked to Ergenekon!” you may say. And true, EVERYTHING is linked to Ergenekon. But this one makes a lot more sense than the previous linked assassination attempt – Mossad? Seriously? Get real. This one has some real names and real tradecraft behind it. But…uh…not much.

The plot is as such. A retired Colonel in the Turkish military – named Ibrahim Çeçen – brought in two Chechen assassins to kill Erdoğan. Alparslan Arslan, someone implicated in the Ergenekon case, went to Bulgaria to talk to Çeçen about carrying out the attack. This information was given by MİT agent Mete Yalazangil. Codename: Mete.

First of all, this is way too elaborate. Turkey has 72 million people and universal male conscription. Do you really need to bring in Chechens to do it? And what’s with the double names? Were the screenwriters of Pushing Daisies behind this? And Mete’s codename is Mete? This is really their tradecraft? It’s like Spaceballs.

I’d almost be more accepting if it wasn’t wrapped into Ergenekon. It just seems lazy to wrap up assassinations with Ergenekon. Of course the dastardly plot to take down the government will include assassinating Erdogan. The problem with wrapping every single anti-government activity into Erkenegon is that the taints on Ergenekon end up tainting everything. I am not sure at the moment whether the Ergenekon case will be an internationally accepted case. There are a lot of details there that I honestly haven’t looked fully into, but there is very clearly some sketchy parts of it.

If this was a legitimate assassination attempt, it probably is more worthwhile to pursue it on its own rather then to lump it in with the “military needs a democratic check” political sideshow that the Ergenekon case has become. There would be more to it from a law & order perspective to keep things separate and to keep your independent variables independent in a case. But I’m not sure if that will actually be executed as such for this current issue.

The military in Turkey has played a political role historically, and the AKP wants to curb this role in order to consolidate power. Ergenekon, justly or not, is part of the AKP’s attempt to curb the military. Domestically, it is far more about politics than law and order. I do not think anybody will dispute that. Internationally, however, there is no real consensus as to whether the Ergenekon trial is “bad” or “good” for Turkey. And I doubt that a scatter-brained assassination attempt is going to change that, but I don’t like the consolidation of storylines for storylines’ sake. It gets facts and truth mucked up in the way of a sweeping narrative, which is never good, and can be quite bad.

And honestly? Chechens? Just because the dude’s last name was “Chechen?” They need to learn from Afghanistan, Iraq, and everywhere else. It’s never Chechens.

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