Two F-16s fly low over a city as part of a military training exercise.
Not something you’d generally think would cause outbursts of condemnation, until you take into account the particular day and location of this exercise- and the fact that this is Turkey.
The controversial flyover, which happened Tuesday morning and featured as the front page story of today’s Radikal, took place in Erzurum, where the Third Army commander General Saldiray Berk was due to appear in court charged with being a key member of ‘Ergenekon’- an alleged secret organization with links within the state and the military, aiming to overthrow Turkey’s Islamic-leaning government.
The sprawling investigation into Ergenekon, which started in 2007 and has resulted in more than 200 arrests, is seen by many as part of the ongoing power struggle between the government and Turkey’s secular state.
Army top brass have been implicated and hauled into court, undermining an institution once seen as all-powerful, having precipitated four coup d’etats since 1960.
The two jets which roared low over the courthouse (apparently in lieu of General Berk, who refused to attend) have been widely perceived as a ‘show of power’ by the army- the latest in a series of such displays.
In January for example, a 25-vehicle military convoy made an unexpected trip to Erzurum as another Ergenekon suspect, a high-ranking member of the Gendarmerie, was undergoing interrogation.
The incidents call to mind Turkey’s ‘Postmodern Coup’ on February 28, 1997, when the Necmettin Erbakan’s Islamist government stepped down after the military rolled tanks through the streets of Ankara.