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PSIR 426 Civilian-Military Relations. Gareth Jenkins, “ Continuity and change: prospects for civil–military relations in Turkey” “Turkey and its army Erdogan and his generals” , The Economist , 2 Feb 2013 W8. Civilian-Military Relations.

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psir 426 civilian military relations

PSIR 426Civilian-Military Relations

Gareth Jenkins, “Continuity and change: prospects for

civil–military relations in Turkey”

“Turkey and its army

Erdogan and his generals” , The Economist, 2 Feb 2013


civilian military relations
Civilian-Military Relations
  • The extent to which themilitary can influence politics in Turkey has never been constant or—with theexception of a brief period of direct military rule from 1980 to 1983—total, buthas varied according to changes in the prevailing domestic political circumstances:falling during times of stability and confidence and rising during times of uncertainty.
civilian military relations1
Civilian-Military Relations
  • Over the past 50 years, the Turkish military has ousted four civilian governments.
  • Each of these interventions has had its own unique characteristics, differingnot only in itself but also in terms of the extent of the support and involvement ofthe rest of Turkish society.
civilian military relations2
Civilian-Military Relations
  • The military has never been popular on the extreme left or the radical Islamistright of the Turkish political spectrum. Yet the military consistently ranks first inany public opinion poll of the most respected institutions in the country.
  • Nevertheless,there have often been variations both in the degree of public respect and inpublic support for the military playing a role in the political arena.
  • These variationshave been smallest among the mass of the population and greatest among membersof the intelligentsia, who are often highly critical of the military during periods ofstability but still have a tendency to turn to it in times of crisis.
civilian military relations3
Civilian-Military Relations
  • Yet, there has been less variation in the Turkish military’s own perceptionof its role and responsibilities. Over the past 70 years, the Turkish military hasconsistently regarded itself not only as the guarantor of domestic stability and theguardian of the official ideology of Kemalism but also as the embodiment of thesoul of the Turkish nation.
civilian military relations background
Civilian-Military Relations (Background)
  • The Ottoman officer corps was at the forefront of the efforts
  • to modernize the empire and, during what has become known in English as theera of the Young Turks, effectively ruled the empire in the decade leading up to its defeat at the end of the First World War. It was also former members of theOttoman officer corps, led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881–1938), who foundedthe Turkish Republic in 1923.
  • Ataturk not only sought to create a secular, homogenizednation-state out of the Anatolian rump of the Ottoman empire but activelyencouraged the identification between the nascent nation and its military.
civilian military relations background1
Civilian-Military Relations (Background)
  • The inculcation of the identification between nation and armywas strengthened by the introduction of compulsory military service in 1927. Inaddition to providing military training, military service also assumed an educationaland ‘civilizing’ role as it attempted to imbue the young conscripts with thevalues of the new republic.
  • Over time, the principles behind Ataturk’s teachings—such as secularism,territorial integrity and national unity, and western cultural models and traits coalesced into a fully fledged ideology known as Kemalism.
civilian military relations background2
Civilian-Military Relations (Background)
  • During the 1940s and 1950s, given the still very limitedaccess to formal education (particularly in rural areas), military service played agreater role in shaping the characters and attitudes of the mass of the male populationof Turkey than the state education system.
the legal status and responsibilities of the turkish military
The legal status and responsibilities of the Turkish military
  • The most detailed statement of the legal role and obligations of the military iscontained in the Turkish Armed Forces Internal Service Law No. 211 of January1961.
  • Article 35 states: ‘The duty of the Turkish Armed Forces is to protect andpreserve the Turkish homeland and the Turkish Republic as defined in the constitution.’
  • Even though the measure was promulgated during a period of militaryrule, article 35 of Law No. 211 is identical to article 34 of the Turkish Armed ForcesInternal Service Law No. 2771 of 1935, which had been introduced during the civilian single-party regime.
  • The Turkish military cited article 35 ofLaw No. 211 as legal justification when it staged the coup of 1980, and article 34of Law No. 2771 when it seized power in 1960.
  • Yet, since 1983 the military has tended to use more subtle means to ensure that government policies do nottransgress what it deems to be the limits of acceptability.
delineating the acceptable mechanisms of control 1983 1997
Delineating the acceptable: mechanisms of control 1983–1997
  • Following the return to civilian rule in 1983, theTurkish general staff (TGS) rarely dictated policy to thegovernment. It preferred to make recommendations in the expectation that these would be applied.
  • In areas where the military played a key role in the detailed formulationof policy it tended to use official platforms within the apparatus of state. Themost important of these was the National Security Council (NSC).
  • Meetings of the NSC are chaired by the Turkish president.In addition to the president, the NSC comprised the prime minister, foreign minister, interior minister and defense minister from the civilian government, andthe chief of staff and the commanders of the land forces, navy, air force and gendarmerie for the military.
delineating the acceptable mechanisms of control 1983 19971
Delineating the acceptable: mechanisms of control 1983–1997
  • The military was effectively able to dictate what was discussed. The secretarygeneral of the NSC was always a serving full general or admiral. Serving andretired members of the military also dominated the National Security CouncilUndersecretariat, whose approximately 400 members of staff were responsiblefor drawing up briefing documents and background papers for distribution to themembers of the NSC under the supervision of the NSC secretary general.
delineating the acceptable mechanisms of control 1983 19972
Delineating the acceptable: mechanisms of control 1983–1997
  • Article 118 of the 1982 constitution upgraded the NSC, so that it was no longera merely advisory body; now the Council of Ministers should give ‘priorityconsideration’ to its views.
  • In practice it was not unusual for the Council of Ministersto fail to implement the NSC recommendations, although it would not introducemeasures which directly contradicted them.
  • Through the late 1980s and early 1990s, the restrictions imposed by the regimeof 1980–83 were slowly eased, leading many Turkish and foreign commentators tosuppose that the era of military interventions was over. However, a number offactors such as the low-intensity civil war in the South East and widespread corruption of political leaders ensured that the military retained a foothold in the political arena.
the 28 february process
The 28 February process
  • In June 1996 the Islamist Welfare Party (WP) formed
  • a coalition government with the True Path Party (TPP), and WP chairman Necmettin Erbakan became Turkey’s first avowedly Islamist prime minister.
  • The mere presence of an Islamist party in power was problematic for the Turkish military.
  • At the NSC meeting of 28 February 1997 the military presented the civiliangovernment with a list of 18 anti-Islamist measures it wished to see implemented.
  • The list had been prepared by the NSC Undersecretariat in cooperation with theworking groups in the TGS.
the 28 february process1
The 28 February process
  • The measures ranged from curbs on the Islamistmedia to the closure of private Qur’anic schools and courses, and restrictions onstate-run preacher training schools known as İmamHatipLiseleri (İHLs), which themilitary believed were being used to inculcate anti-secularist values.
  • After initially resisting, Erbakan finally agreed to forward the list to the Council of Ministers.
  • On 14 March 1997 the measures were approved by parliament. But privately WPofficials insisted that the party could not afford to implement the measures without alienating its grass roots.
the 28 february process2
The 28 February process
  • In April and May 1997 the TGS stepped up the pressure by holding a series ofbriefings for the media, the judiciary and the business community on the growingthreat to secularism posed by the WP.
  • On 22 May 1997 the public prosecutor applied to the Constitutional Court for theclosure of the WP on the grounds that it was attempting to undermine the principleof secularism enshrined in the Turkish constitution. The military also worked behindthe scenes, discreetly lobbying members of the TPP in an attempt to persuade themto withdraw from the coalition.
  • The resultant resignations chipped away at the WP–TPP majority. On 18 June 1997 the government finally resigned and was replaced by a coalition government. On 16 January 1998 the Turkish Constitutional Court formally closed downthe WP and banned Erbakan from all political activity for a period of five years.
reform and readjustment
Reform and readjustment
  • With the Islamist movement apparently in retreat, starting in 1999 the tripartite coalitionbegan to reduce the institutional influence of the TGS. In June 1999 militaryjudges were removed from the state security courts.
  • In October 2001 parliament amended article 118 of the Turkish constitution to increase the civilian membershipof the NSC by including the justice minister and any deputy prime ministers. At thesame time the requirement that the Council of Ministers give ‘priority consideration’to the recommendations of the NSC wasremoved and replaced by an obligation thatthe Council be merely ‘notified’ of them.
reform and readjustment1
Reform and readjustment
  • More extensive reforms came in July 2003. The requirement that the secretarygeneral of the NSC be a serving member of the military was abolished, as wasthe secretary general’s unlimited access to any civilian agency and the authority tomonitor the implementation of NSC recommendations.
  • Meetings of the NSC were reduced from once a month to once every two months; this madeit much more difficult for the TGS to use the NSC as an instrument of sustained pressure.
reform and readjustment2
Reform and readjustment
  • In summer 2002 the increasingly fractious tripartite coalition government finallycollapsed and early general elections were called for 3 November 2002.
  • The JDP won 34.3 per cent of the popular vote, giving it 363 seats.
  • The JDP is born out of the MilliGorus (National Outlook) traditionthat represents political Islam from the 1970s onwards. WP is a predecessor of the party.
zk k and the jdp european normality or turkish anomaly
Özkök and the JDP: European normality or Turkish anomaly?
  • After Turkey was officiallynamed as a candidate for EU membership in December 1999, the tripartite governmenthad initiated a series of democratizing reforms in the hope of securing a datefor the opening of accession negotiations. Most importantly, there was a new chiefof the TGS, General HilmiOzkok, who had been appointed at the end of August 2002.
zk k and the jdp european normality or turkish anomaly1
Özkök and the JDP: European normality or Turkish anomaly?
  • Turkish chiefs of staff are appointed at the end of August each year, usuallyfor a four-year term. In theory, the chief of staff is chosen by the Council ofMinisters, which submits the name of a candidate to the president for ratification.
  • In practice, the candidate is selected by the outgoing chief of staff . Although thereis no official hierarchy, the chief of staff has traditionally always been a member ofthe army, usually the commander of the land forces.
zk k and the jdp european normality or turkish anomaly2
Özkök and the JDP: European normality or Turkish anomaly?
  • Ozkok was believed to be a devout Muslim, although no one was sure of the extent of his piety or whether it would affect his commitment to safeguarding secularism. Without any concreteevidence, the outgoing chief of staff General HuseyinKıvrıkoğlu was reluctant toforce Ozkok into retirement.
  • But he ensured that two known hardliners, GeneralYasarBuyukanıt and General AytacYalman, were appointed to the key positionsof deputy chief of staff and commander of the land forces respectively.
zk k and the jdp european normality or turkish anomaly3
Özkök and the JDP: European normality or Turkish anomaly?
  • The mutual antipathy between the TGS and the JDP meantthat there were very few informal contacts, a state of affairs that both reduced themilitary’s ability to apply pressure and increased its suspicions of the JDP’s ultimateintentions. Apart from the NSC, the only regular contacts between the TGS andthe JDP were the weekly meetings between Ozkok and the prime minister.
  • When it came to power the JDP not only continued but accelerated the reformsinitiated by the previous administration with a view to hastening admission tothe EU. In late 2002 opinion polls suggested that over 70 per cent of the Turkishpopulation supported EU membership.
  • Given the EU’s insistence on civil control of the military, any overt attempt to influence the political process through assertivepublic statements risked at least delaying Turkey’s receiving a date fromBrussels, which in turn would damage the TGS’s public prestige.
zk k and the jdp european normality or turkish anomaly4
Özkök and the JDP: European normality or Turkish anomaly?
  • On 23 April 2003 the TGS boycotted a reception held by Arınc to celebrateNational Sovereignty and Children’s Day when it learned that it would be cohostedby his headscarfed wife.
  • One week later, after the NSC meeting of 30 April2003, the TGS ensured that the subsequent press release led with the declaration thatthe meeting ‘had stressed the importance of meticulously protecting the principleof secularism which is one of the basic characteristics of the state’.
zk k and the jdp european normality or turkish anomaly5
Özkök and the JDP: European normality or Turkish anomaly?
  • Yet Ozkok was approving, not initiating, the TGS’s new assertiveness, whichwas instigated by others in the high command. The latter were not only frustratedthemselves but were becoming increasingly concerned by restlessness among theyounger members of the officer corps, who could not understand why Ozkokwas not taking a harder line with the government.
zk k and the jdp european normality or turkish anomaly6
Özkök and the JDP: European normality or Turkish anomaly?
  • The JDP, emboldened by its success in winning 41.7 per cent of the national votein the local elections of 28 March 2004, brought a package of educationalreforms before parliament on 4 May 2004. On 6 May the TGS published a statementdescribing the reforms as a threat to secularism. The TGS was concerned that these reforms would encourage the growth of İHLs (highschools that trained clerics) and make it easierfor their graduates to enter university.
  • The reforms were passed by parliament on 13 May 2004. Two weeks later, on 27May, they were vetoed by President Sezer on the grounds that they were incompatiblewith the constitutional principle of secularism. Under Turkish law, thepresident can veto legislation only once. But the JDP declined to resubmit the law to parliament.
zk k and the jdp european normality or turkish anomaly7
Özkök and the JDP: European normality or Turkish anomaly?
  • Throughout the second half of 2004 both sides remained cautious, anxious not to jeopardizeTurkey’s chances of receiving a date for the opening of accession negotiations at the EU summit in Brussels on 16–17 December 2004.
  • The EU eventually agreed to open membership negotiations with Turkey on 3 October 2005.
  • Within the TGS, frustration at both the government and Ozkok continued tomount through the rest of 2005.Although Ozkok reassured the other leading commandersthat he repeatedly warned Erdoğan to respect secularism, few were convinced.
  • Although few believethat he favoured the abolition of secularism, many in the TGS became worried that, as a religious man himself, Ozkok failed to understand the threat posed by the JDP.
zk k and the jdp european normality or turkish anomaly8
Özkök and the JDP: European normality or Turkish anomaly?
  • Tension was growing.
  • On 10 May 2006, Erdoğan stormed out of the ceremonyto mark the anniversary of the Council of State, Turkey’s highest appeal court,after the court’s president warned that the republic was under threat from religiousfundamentalism.
  • On 17 May AlparslanArslan, a 28-year-old lawyer with ultranationalistand Islamist sympathies, walked into the Council of State building inAnkara, shot dead one of the judges, Mustafa YucelOzbilgin, and wounded fourothers. When he was arrested, Arslan told police that he had carried out the assassinationin protest at the ban on Islamic headscarves.
zk k and the jdp european normality or turkish anomaly9
Özkök and the JDP: European normality or Turkish anomaly?
  • In early summer 2006 elements within the JDP launched a defamation campaignagainst Buyukanıt, including emails, faxes and stories planted in the Islamist pressclaiming, among other things, that he was of Jewish origin.
  • In response, servingand retired generals, including former chiefs of staff , bombarded Ozkok withemails, faxes and telephone calls warning him not to try to prevent Buyukanıtsucceeding him.
  • At the beginning of August 2006 Sezer wrote to Ozkok andErdoğan suggesting that they quell any speculation by immediately approving Buyukanıt’s appointment. The government did not resist.
the tgs under b y kan t
The TGS under Büyükanıt
  • The appointment of General YaşarBuyukanıt as chiefof the Turkish general staff (TGS) at the end of August 2006 marked a new era incivil–military relations in the country.
  • Buyukanıt delivered his first warning to the government within minutes ofassuming command, declaring: ‘Protecting the fundamental principles of therepublic is not a matter of domestic politics, it is the army’s duty.’
  • In late September2006 the commanders of the Turkish army, navy and air force each delivered publicstatements warning of the threat posed to Turkey by Islamic fundamentalism.
  • Chief of general staff after Büyükanıt: İlker Başbuğ (critical of the party, hawkish), Işık Koşaner (served for a year and resigned due to detention of high ranking officers and) Necdet Özel (supported by the government).
turkey and its army erdogan and his generals the economist 2 february 20131
Turkey and its armyErdogan and his generals”, The Economist, 2 February 2013
  • The series of cases known as Ergenekon and Sledgehammer has left Turkey’s once omnipotent armed forces weak and divided. At last count one in five Turkish generals, including Ilker Basbug, a former chief of the general staff, was behind bars.
  • Operation Sledgehammer (BalyozHarekâtı) is the name of an alleged Turkish secularist military coup plan which reportedly dates back to 2003, and was allegedly in response to the Islamist Justice and Development Party gaining office.
  • The Ergenekon trials are a series high-profile trials which have taken place in Turkey in which 275 people, including military top brass, journalists and opposition lawmakers, all alleged members of  Ergenekon, a supposed secularist secret organization, were accused of plotting against the Turkish government. The trials have resulted in lengthy prison sentences for the majority of the accused.
turkey and its army erdogan and his generals the economist 2 february 20132
Turkey and its armyErdogan and his generals”, The Economist, 2 February 2013
  • There are allegations that trials are based on claims of spiced-up evidence and other discrepancies.
  • The relatives of the accused argue that the evidence was manifactured.
  • Some point fingers at a powerful Muslim group led by Fethullah Gulen, a moderate Turkish cleric living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. The generals hounded the Gulenists after they ejected Turkey’s first Islamist prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, in 1997. The Gulenists have made a comeback under AKP and are said to have infiltrated the police and judiciary.
turkey and its army erdogan and his generals the economist 2 february 20133
Turkey and its armyErdogan and his generals”, The Economist, 2 February 2013
  • Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, shares some doubts, even though he has cut down the generals’ influence during his decade in power. “These operations against the army are affecting morale. There are 400 serving and retired officers in jail. At this rate we will have no officers left to appoint to command positions,” he complained in a recent interview.
  • Erdoğan seems to think that the army is fully under his control. The National Security Council through which the generals used to bark orders to nominally civilian governments has been reduced to a symbolic role. After constitutional reforms were approved in a 2010 referendum, soldiers began to be tried in civilian courts.
turkey and its army erdogan and his generals the economist 2 february 20134
Turkey and its armyErdogan and his generals”, The Economist, 2 February 2013
  • Yet for all their recent setbacks the generals still retain considerable sway. The defence budget remains largely immune to civilian oversight. The chief of the general staff is not subordinate to the minister of defence. And an internal service law that allows the army to intervene in politics remains in place.
turkey and its army erdogan and his generals the economist 2 february 20135
Turkey and its armyErdogan and his generals”, The Economist, 2 February 2013
  • Indeed, the idea that some officers may have been conspiring to topple the AK government is not far-fetched. In 2007 the army tried unsuccessfully to stop Abdullah Gul, a former foreign minister, from becoming Turkey’s president because his wife wears the Islamic headscarf.
  • In 2008 the generals egged on the constitutional court to ban AK on flimsily documented charges that it was seeking to impose sharia law. In the event the case was dismissed by a single vote.
  • As for Ergenekon, “even in the absence of tampered evidence, there is sufficient proof of coup plotting to send scores of generals to jail,” argues Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a human-rights lawyer who has studied the case.