The Turkish military

The Turkish military has a long and complex history that is deeply intertwined with the political and social dynamics of modern Turkey. Over the years, the military has played a significant role in shaping the country’s political landscape, often serving as a mediator or enforcer of secularism and stability.

Origins of the Turkish Military

The origins of the Turkish military can be traced back to the Ottoman Empire, where the military played a central role in the governance of the state. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, embarked on a campaign of modernization and secularization. Atatürk viewed the military as a key instrument of change and a bulwark against political Islam.

Under Atatürk’s leadership, the Turkish military was transformed into a modern, professional force that was committed to the principles of secularism, democracy, and modernization. The military’s influence was institutionalized through the creation of the National Security Council (NSC), which was established in 1960 and became a powerful political force in its own right.

Role in Turkish Politics

Throughout much of the 20th century, the Turkish military played an active role in shaping the country’s political landscape. The military saw itself as the guardian of the secular state and intervened in politics several times to uphold this principle.

In 1960, the military overthrew the democratically elected government of Adnan Menderes, citing the government’s alleged violation of the secular principles of the state. In 1971, the military issued a memorandum that forced the resignation of the government of Süleyman Demirel, once again citing the need to preserve the secular state.

The military’s most significant intervention in politics came in 1980 when it staged a coup and installed a military government that ruled the country for three years. During this time, the military oversaw a period of political and economic stabilization, but also suppressed political dissent and violated human rights.

In 1997, the military once again intervened in politics, issuing a memorandum that forced the resignation of the government of Necmettin Erbakan, citing the government’s alleged Islamist agenda.

The military’s intervention in politics has been a source of controversy and debate in Turkey. Critics argue that the military’s actions have undermined democracy and civil liberties, while supporters argue that the military has acted to protect the country’s secular values and stability.

Reforms and Challenges

In recent years, the Turkish military has undergone significant reforms aimed at reducing its role in politics and increasing its focus on professionalization and modernization. In 2010, the government passed a package of constitutional amendments that significantly reduced the military’s influence and power, including the dissolution of the NSC.

The military has also faced significant challenges in recent years, including a failed coup attempt in 2016 that was staged by a faction within the military. The coup attempt was swiftly put down by the government, but it exposed deep divisions within the military and raised questions about the military’s loyalty and commitment to democracy.

Conclusion

The Turkish military has played a significant role in shaping the political and social dynamics of modern Turkey. While the military has often acted to uphold secularism and stability, its interventions in politics have also been controversial and have undermined democracy and civil liberties.

In recent years, the military has undergone significant reforms aimed at reducing its role in politics and increasing its focus on professionalization and modernization. However, the failed coup attempt in 2016 highlights the ongoing challenges and complexities facing the military in Turkey today.

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s