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Monday, March 1, 2010

ides of march

The Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars and a military parade was usually held. In modern times, the term Ides of March is best known as the date that Julius Caesar was assassinated in 709 AUC or 44 B.C. In William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, Caesar is warned to “beware the Ides of March.

Or civilian-military Ides of March in Turkey

Prosecutors arresting prosecutors. Dozens of active and retired military officers rounded up. Angry generals. Accusatory politicians. Breathless exclamations lamenting an “attack on democracy,” or the threat of “Shariah law.” And that was just the past few days.

If Turks have a hard time tracking the skirmishing amid the military, the judiciary and the government, outsiders and the newly initiated will find the intricacies of Turkish politics all but mind-numbing. So let’s take it slowly.

Much of the political hyperventilation of recent days turns on the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) Operation, an alleged military coup plot dating to 2003 that has been shaking the country for the last five weeks.

The plot was initially revealed Jan. 20 by the feisty daily Taraf, a young newspaper that has persistently focused on critiquing the Turkish military. The alleged plot to remove the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, from power by destabilizing the country included raising tension between Turkey and Greece in the Aegean Sea by having a Turkish fighter plane shot down, bombing two significant mosques in Istanbul during prayer time and staging an organized assault on a military museum by agents dressed as extremists.

Was this seriously considered once upon a time? Or were some disgruntled and powerless officers simply having a scenario jam session that no one should take seriously? In a nutshell, this is the debate that has ensued around many Turkish tables, coffeehouse backgammon games and student teahouses in recent weeks. Source

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