On Monday General Bilgin Balanli, the man who was to head Turkey’s air force, stood trial in a civilian court, reports Deutsche Welle.His case may be a game changer. Balani is one of the highest ranking members of the military ever to be charged with plotting to undermine the government in a sting known as “Sledgehammer.”
For four years the Turkey’s secular military has been under investigation by the country’s ruling Islamist AKP party (headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan). According to them, the military has been plotting to foment chaos in the country, bombing mosques and starting fights with Greece, in order to discredit the government and take power. Hundreds of soldiers have been detained and stood trial — last December 200 faced judgment. As yet, no one has been convicted.
Balani’s case was delayed after his defence argued that his trial was a show, a conspiracy of its own to undermine Turkey’s military, and that the judges involved had been corrupted. Balani added that there are new plots targeting the Air Force. He isn’t the only one who feels that way.
“It’s aiming for one-party rule. They don’t like democracy,” said former military man turned political analyst Haldun Solmazturk. “Once they eliminate the army there is not any other power that can challenge one-party rule, one-party regime. That is why the government has been so adamant in supporting this unjust justice system.”
Last month, the top brass of Turkey’s military resigned en masse, protesting the arrests of lower ranking officers and leaving the government to scramble for officers to fill their positions. According to Al Arabiya, the Turkish lira weakened sharply on the news to 1.6964 against the dollar from an interbank close of 1.6805 that week.
And while the military has been the most publicly targeted group in Seldghammer, The Christian Science Monitor reports that scores of journalists and Krudish politicians have also been imprisoned in the ongoing sting.
Naturally, there is also the government take on this story, and it’s pretty simple. according to them, the military is attempting to destabilize the government, as it has done several times in Turkey’s history, and this time the powerful AKP party will not allow it.
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