Sunday, February 19, 2012

This Week in Turkey: Wrapping up week of 2-13-12

As always, there's a lot going on in Turkey. The trial for the match-fixing case -- in which 93 people stand accused of (successfully) arranging match results beforehand in order to get Istanbul team Fenerbahce to the top of the standings -- began on Tuesday, but I'll talk about that another week.

Probably the biggest news in the country also began Monday/Tuesday, when word broke that a specially authorized prosecutor had been removed from his position for summoning important members of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) to testify in a terrorism case. From what I have seen, this is pretty much all the papers can talk about. Basically, in 2009, the government decided to try and solve the country's biggest terrorism problem through negotiation, and they secretly sent the now-head of MİT to Oslo to meet with the terrorist group, the PKK. The question is, did MİT just do what it was supposed to do (and perhaps infiltrate the related group, the KCK, in the interest of national security), or did some MİT members actually get involved in the group? Obviously, I have no idea, but this is a debate -- along with its thousands of reprecussions -- that has gripped newspaper columnists this week. (I don't actually know if the average person cares.) Some people are saying it's really just a power struggle between various parts of the bureaucracy; the biggest tangible result so far has been that the government is amending a law so that when a prosecutor wants to summon an MİT offical (any or just the important ones, I don't know), they first have to get the permission of the prime minister.

Speaking of the prime minister, Mr. Erdogan had a 30-minute surgery on his lower intestine, likely Friday a week ago. It was the second part of a procedure he had done last November; his doctors say he had "harmless polyps removed," but speculation has been rife that he has cancer. He's 57 and by far, Turkey's most influential and important politician, so his health is a pretty big deal.

In more cheery news, Turkey's most-expensive film to date and probably the year's most anticipated, Fetih 1453, came out on Thursday, with every theater showing the first screening at 14:53 in the afternoon. Otherwise known as The Conquest 1453 in English, the $17-million dollar epic is about the taking of Constantinople by 21-year-old Sultan Mehmet. The trailer looks awesome but alas, it isn't playing here with English subtitles. :(

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