Turkey's investigation of Ergenekon is Phase I
WMR has learned from sources connected to the Turkish government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the current investigation of the Ergenekon "deep state" ("deren devlet") network is phase one of what will eventually extend to an investigation of Ergenekon-related coup activities in the 1990s.
The sources maintain that the current phase of the Ergenekon probe is concentrating on the events of the past ten years, including the attempted military coups against the Erdogan government launched in 2003 (Sledgehammer or "Balyoz") and 2009 (Cage or "Kafes"). A number of senior military officers have been arrested in connection with the two plots.
However, WMR has learned there will be a second phase of the Ergenekon investigation that will look at the roles of certain military officers and foreign intelligence agencies in the soft coup of February 28, 1997. The Turkish military forced the Welfare (Refah) Party Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan to step down after he was charged with being pro-Islamist. The Welfare Party was later banned by Turkey's Constitutional Court, the pro-Kemal Ataturk institution that has applied pressure on the current Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of Erdogan. Proposed constitutional amendments would reform the Constitutional Court and limit its powers that favor the military over democratic institutions.
Erbakan, like Erdogan today, attempted to diversify Turkey's foreign relations by establishing closer relations with Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, and other Muslim nations and criticizing Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians.
However, Israel, which had established close military and intelligence ties with the Turkish military in the 1990s, ordered the Mossad to work with friendly Turkish generals to depose Erbakan and his government. The Mossad-Turkish military plans culminated in the soft coup of February 28, 1997.
The prime architect of the soft coup was Turkish Army Deputy Chief of Staff General Çevik Bir who also helped establish the strategic military alliance between Turkey and Israel in the 1990s. Bir later boasted of his role in the soft coup of 1997 in an article written with neocon Michael Sherman in the Israeli lobby front publication Middle East Quarterly in the Fall of 2002. The article, titled "Formula for Stability: Turkey plus Israel," Bir wrote: "the army made it clear to Erbakan that it would not sit by idly and watch Turkey turn toward Islam or allow Israeli-Turkish military relations to be jeopardized."
Veteran Turkish leader Bulent Ecevit, who preceded Erdogan as Prime Minister, also incurred the wrath of Ergenekon and their Israeli allies. Ecevit strongly criticized Israel's treatment of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat in 2001 and the Israeli attack on Jenin on the West Bank in 2002. Ecevit was the first leader to expose the secret NATO Gladio operations in Turkey in 1974.
On April 9, 2010, WMR reported from Turkey: "There are also revelations that Ergenekon attempted to oust Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit in 2002, prior to the AKP's victory in the election. On May 4, 2002, Ecevit became ill and was transported to Baskent University hospital in Ankara. After being sent home, Ecevit fell and broke his rib and was returned to the hospital. Ecevit's condition worsened. The investigation of Ergenekon is now focusing on whether Ergenekon generals were working with Baskent doctors to try to totally incapacitate Ecevit or kill him, thus paving the way for his deputy prime minister, Hüsamettin Özkan of the coalition partner Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), to take over. Ozkan was much more to the liking of the military. The prime minister's wife, Rahsan Ecevit, barred Baskent doctors from seeing her husband . . . Ecevit died on November 5, 2006, after suffering the cerebral hemorrhage the previous May. He had been in an induced coma since the hemorrhage."
The second phase of the Ergenekon investigation will examine the roles of Bir and his contacts in Washington and Israel had in Turkey's 1997 soft coup. The investigation will also look into the role of U.S. ambassador to Turkey Marc Grossman, present in Ankara in 1997, in the events surrounding the soft coup.
Bir was awarded the Secularism and Democracy Award of 1997 at a ceremony in Washington, DC. That award was followed by his being named the recipient of the International Leader Award of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) for his “contributions to cooperation with Israel."
Bir's connections with Israel were cited in a June 24, 2009, article in Radikal. An email message found in Bir's computer sent to his Israeli counterpart stated: "I may go to Istanbul [as the First Army Commander] this August. Otherwise, it is not possible to be in charge in Ankara [as the Commander of Turkish Armed Forces]. There will be active lobbying afterwards. They may ask my retirement one year after. I made plans according to both possibilities. If they ask my retirement, I am planning to be the President."
Since Bir's treasonous activities with the Israelis became known to the public, Bir has disappeared from Turkish public life. One Turkish source told WMR, "Bir may either be in Washington or Tel Aviv."
The Obama administration views the Turkish Ergenekon investigation with alarm. The official U.S. view is that the United States supports bringing to justice those who broke the law in attempting coups in Turkey. However, there is a caveat: the Obama administration warns the Turkish government not to go "too far" in the investigation of Ergenekon.
With Ergenekon eventually entering Phase Two, Washington and Tel Aviv are nervous. A probe of "deep state" activities in Turkey in the 1990s threatens to expose joint CIA-Mossad covert activities in Turkey that include political assassinations, coups, false flag terrorist attacks, and drug and arms smuggling.