Arı Foundation invites pro-Ergenekon speaker to Congress event

November 18, 2009, Wednesday/ 17:15:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
Ergenekon is known as a terrorist organization in Turkey, suspected of countless atrocities all committed in the hope of overthrowing the democratically elected Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, but its supporters are trying to brand the trial of suspected members as the government’s attempt to suppress its opponents.

The arı Movement, known up till now for its liberal mentality favoring freedoms, may be joining these efforts on an international level, as its affiliated Arı Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., is  holding a discussion on the Ergenekon investigation at the Rayburn House Office Building of the US Congress today.

A keynote speaker attending the conference will be Gareth H. jenkins, the author of a controversial report on Ergenekon titled “Between Fact and Fantasy: Turkey’s Ergenekon Investigation.” Jenkins’ report has been found by many pundits to be too one-sided in its criticism of how the investigation is being handled. Jenkins will also be talking today at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute (CACI), part of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of The Johns Hopkins University at a forum titled “From Rhetoric to Reality: Prospects for Turkey’s Future and the AKP’s Authoritarian Tendencies. “ CACI funded Jenkins’ report on Ergenekon. The institute’s research director, Svante Cornell, has been accused by independent US journalist Mark Ames of being hysterical for his views on the 2008 Russo-Georgian war and of wanting to restart the Cold War with Russia for his company’s financial gain. CACI’s Silk Road Studies program has also been criticized for taking $52,300 from Kazakhstan’s government.

Does this point to a shift in the Arı Movement’s policies? Not according to Arı Movement President Ural Aküzüm, who told Today’s Zaman: “The Arı Foundation in Washington is an independent organization. We believe that the Ergenekon trial will contribute to democracy and the normalization of civilian-military relations.” However, he said there were concerns in some segments of the public that the case has seen violations of law in how it is being handled. He said Jenkins, as the person who penned these issues in his report, will be giving a speech. “I knew about this. However, it is out of question that we are defending Ergenekon, as some newspapers have suggested. We are a liberal, democratic institution that believes that military-civilian relations should be as they ought to be.”

Arı Foundation’s Washington representative, Yurter özcan, is an assistant of Soner Çağaptay, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Israel think tank also based in Washington, D.C. Özcan was also a participant in a rally organized by the Atatürk Society of America (ASA) against the AK Party government and Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

Observers noted that some of the individuals that were among the organizers of this rally had yelled out the slogan, “Save us, general!” when former Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt delivered a speech at the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C.

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