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Political strife deepens in Turkey

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Indictments in the Ergenekon investigation have not yet been issued, even though it has been 13 months since 27 grenades and other explosives were found in an Istanbul apartment, ushering Ergenekon into the Turkish lexicon for the first time as a hard-line group with high-level contacts that aimed to topple the AKP government.

The Turkish media have brimmed with reports of leaked details from the indictment against the alleged coup-plotters, including plans for mass protests, clashes with police, assassinations, and use of the media to provoke fear; all of it adding up to a decision by the military to seize control.

"This is all very mind-boggling," says Mustafa Akyol, a columnist for the Turkish Daily News and a political analyst in Istanbul. "The question is whether this is true, and whether it will be documented and proved."

But in a nation where a staunch secularism has long been a pillar of society – and the military has staged four coups in as many decades, in its self-declared role as the protector of Ataturk's legacy – acts by virulent ultranationalists have rarely been challenged.

"For the first time, patriots – quote, unquote – will be prosecuted and maybe put in jail," says Mr. Akyol. "In Turkey, the common [view] is that if you are a patriot, if you love your country, you are a good guy, and whatever you do has some justification. Now it will be proven that patriots, people who love their country, can be criminals. They can kill."

Such groups have for decades been close to elite power centers in Turkey. They are widely called the "Deep State" – sometimes described as renegade members of the security forces that act beyond the law, and believed to have secret but unproven connections with the military, police, and judiciary.

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