Turkey's autocratic, militaristic regime is coming to its end. There may well be backlashes, but there is no turning back the clocks. This train terminates at this station and it won't just be Turkey that changes tracks. The whole Middle East will be impacted.
It's truly a long story. The gist of it is that almost all evil that we witnessed in Turkey from 1940's was the work of a secretive group of men with dark intents and powerful means.
To name but a few:
- The killing of a priest and a Christian missionary in recent years in what appeared to be xenophobic hate crimes.
- The killing of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink.
- The killing of some 40,000 people in a war with Kurdish separatists. (The separatists were actually a trojan horse who were not only 'tasked' to derail democratic Kurdish aspirations but who also ensured the continuity of military domination in Turkish politics by feeding their raison d'etre.)
- The cold-blooded murder of scores of Kurdish businessmen in 1990s.
- Overt military coups of 1960, 1972, 1980 that resulted in the shelving of parliamentary democracy and successive 'soft coups' that succeeded in changing the direction of political life by the force of guns.
- 'Social disturbances' in various Turkish cities in the 70s that resulted in the death of thousands in what then seemed to be right-left or Sunni-Alawi clashes. (None was natural. All were instigated as black ops.)
- Various putsch plans, as recently as in 2009, that included murdering non-Muslims, blowing up students in a museum, firing rockets on civilians 'to prepare the appropriate grounds for a military takeover.'
- The planned shooting down of a Turkish fighter jet over the Aegean with friendly fire to force a military escalation with Greece in order to bring down the government in Ankara.
- Retaining an illegal regime in Northern Cyprus to be able to hide and feed the most secretive black operators.
It is indeed a long list. All this is the gloomy picture emerging from tens of thousands of pages of the official indictment of the series of court cases that have come to be known as the Ergenekon trial.
There is only one word that will be sufficient to characterize the prosecutors' claims: Preposterous. Yet, most everything they are saying is very likely to be true. Plus, it does not matter that much. The public opinion in Turkey has already given its verdict: Everything we suffered, we suffered because of this shady fraternity.
For the great majority of the people of Turkey, all this comes as a great relief. For the Kurd, it's a heart-warming thought to be able to believe that all the tyranny he saw was engineered by an illegal gang rather than the state to which he still wants to have allegiance. For the religious type, it's bliss to think all her issues came from the enemies of the people. The non-Muslims too take heart that neither the ordinary Turks nor the state in general had any problem with them; who ever targeted them also targeted the well-being of everyone else in Turkey as well.
Externalizing such a gigantic problem is a great boon for the entire nation. Here, all our ills had come from these guys, and they are now seeing their day in the court.
Turkey is truly cleansing its bowels. It's a nasty process but it will end well.
Many Turks believe the process is externally driven. Newspaper columnists and politicians liberally point to Washington as the initiator of the current 'operation'. Well, this is not just about Turkey. What we are seeing is the crumbling of the old, autocratic, opaque, British engineered order in the Middle East. It is being replaced by a more democratic and transparent system. And this is exactly where things start getting truly inspiring for the rest of the region.
It is quite obvious from their public statements that some Turkish generals who at least sympathized with the political orientation of the Ergenekon system are at a loss to explain how quickly they appear to have lost the support of Washington. This must also be worrying generals, bureaucrats and sheikhs from Amman to Cairo, Algiers to Riyadh.
Turkish autocracy was probably the only palatable brand of military controlled regime in the Middle East. Palatable in the sense that Turks might have tolerated it in the long run. Its demise means the worlds for other autocratic regimes in the region.
For one, I'll venture to say the Egyptian regime won't be able to retain its current tightly-controlled system apres Mubarak. Once Egypt falls, Jordan, Palestine and Syria will have to change extremely quickly into truly democratic systems. In many ways, Egypt and Sudan are connected with an umbilical cord and that's why Sudan's military regime will fall quickly.
The Moroccan regime will be smart enough to turn a lot more power over to the hand of democratic forces. They are already experimenting with a political party system that is learning from the Turkish example of internalizing devout Muslims (as opposed to 'Islamists' which I consider to be a misnomer.)
Algeria might try to resist by becoming increasingly more reliant on Paris but that will have a steep price tag on it. The day Algiers could play Paris against Washington, is passe.
Libyan autocracy has no future beyond Kaddafi. Even his sons and daughters don't want it. I know first hand that his kids are shopping around the Middle East to build mega media empires for themselves. They are in a rush. No wonder why.
Even the oil-rich Gulf regimes won't be spared. Kuwait is already on the brink of falling and perhaps becoming the only true democracy in the Arab world. Noisy, messy and rather unpredictable, like any democracy would be.
You see, Turkey was the crown jewel of the British made Middle East. Its fall and transfer to the camp of more democratic nations also spells the end of all other autocracies around it.
The key to the change will be the hearts and minds of the Arab and Muslim masses.
That's why Arabs hoisting pictures of Turkish PM Erdogan in unrelated public rallies is not a meaningless gesture.
The fact that vast majority of Arabs have become addicted to Turkish drama series for their entertainment is unmissable.
On this very day, the top viral video in the Arab world is that of a one-legged Turkish man who prayed at the Kaba hundreds of times kneeling down and standing back up on his sole feet.
Suddenly, 'Turk' is hot among Arabs.
Millions of Arabs are looking to Istanbul these days for their inspiration. In Erdogan, they see a leader who is willing to take on not only the demons of his country but also the might of Israel. No one should expect the Arab masses to continue to tolerate the antics of their olden autocracies that have delivered nothing but poverty, backwardness and continuous humiliation at the hand of adversaries.
Even the Israelis should take comfort from the recent changes, including Erdogan's criticism of Israel's actions in Gaza. For the newly-emerging democratic system in the Middle East will bring better guarantees for Israel's future than the two-tongued kings, sheikhs or pharaohs of today. America can't forever guarantee Israel's security. A democratic Middle East could.
The Ergenekon trial completely altered the Turks' perception of themselves and their regime. The ramifications of this change will soon be heard and seen across the Arab Muslim landscape.