The fact that the military has returned to playing a political role in the wake of the Kobane events, with the General Staff making several emotionally charged statements on the Kurdish issue, has started to be noted with growing alarm by some commentators. Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak warns that in a country with Turkey’s history, its political culture, with its deep societal divisions and with ongoing regional developments, the door is not closed to a return of the military. He notes that the Kurdish issue is of critical importance and reminds that what prompted the military return to politics in the 1990s was precisely the Kurdish issue. Other commentators worry about the consequences of regional developments. While pro-government pundits accuse the United States of harboring imperialist designs against Turkey, critics of the government charge that it invites severe troubles by its ideologically motivated refusal to dissociate itself from what ISIS stands for.
The question that continues to preoccupy many commentators in the Turkish press is the direction that President Erdoğan is taking Turkey. Baskın Oran, a leading political scientist and pundit, drew a historical parallel to the epochs of Atatürk and the sultan Abdülhamid II, noting that Erdoğan is copying Atatürk in his methods, while copying Abdülhamid II ideologically. Meanwhile, the statement that General Necdet Özel, the Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish military, made during the official state reception on August 30 that the military is held in the dark about the peace negotiations between the government and the Kurdish movement and that the military is going to react if its “red lines” are crossed, was welcomed in a comment in the daily Zaman. It was noted that the words of the military deserves to be listened to and that a solution that lacks the support of the armed forces does not stand any chance of success.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 5, no. 23 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey’s membership in NATO has many unique dimensions, including in the number of missile-related crises the country has experienced. Washington pledged to withdraw its nuclear missiles from Turkey during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis in return for securing a Soviet nuclear pull-out from Cuba. In 1990 and 2003, Turkey had to overcome West European qualms about deploying NATO air defense systems in Turkey to counter Saddam Hussein’s threats. After considerable wavering, Turkey averted a major NATO crisis in 2010 when it agreed to host advanced U.S. ballistic missile defense radar. Now Turkey has secured a NATO commitment to relocate some of the alliance’s most advanced air and missile interceptors despite considerable foreign and some domestic opposition.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 18 of the Turkey Analyst)
The sentences in the Sledgehammer trial demonstrate the subjugation of the military to civilian, democratic, legal authority. But at the same time, it is not in the interest of the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) that the officer corps is further demoralized. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan no longer has an interest in wielding a sledgehammer against the military. The outcome of the trial of the generals must be viewed against the backdrop of the new power struggle that rages in Turkey, between the AKP and the movement of Fethullah Gülen.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 8 of the Turkey Analyst)
The trial of the two surviving members of the junta that seized power on September 12, 1980, in a coup that altered Turkey’s course, is an historic event, but it does not reflect any desire to settle accounts with a regime whose framework, on the contrary, is preserved. What would amount to the ultimate conviction of Kenan Evren would be if the constitution that bears his signature were to be scrapped and replaced with a democratic one. But instead, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to concentrate even more power into his hands than Evren once did.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.