05 Oct


The role of military in Turkish politics has been a contentious and complex issue throughout the country's modern history. A critical evaluation of this role involves examining different periods and the evolving dynamics between the military and civilian authorities. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Historical Context :

After the founding of the Turkish Republic  in 1923, the military, under the leadership of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, played a pivotal role in shopping the country's institutions and political landscape. It was instrumental in the secularization and modernization of Turkey.

  • Military Interventions :

The Turkish military conducted several coups and interventions in the country's political affairs, including those in 1960, 1971, and 1980. These interventions were often justified as a response to perceived threats to the secular and Kemalist principles of the state.

  • Guardianship Role :

The Turkish military saw itself as the guardian of the Kemalist principles, including secularism, nationalism, and statism. This led to a perception that it had the right and responsibility to intervene in politics to protect these principles.

  • Erosion of Democracy :

Military interventions in Turkish politics were criticized for undermining democratic processes and weakening civilian institutions. These interventions resulted in the suspension of political parties, arrests of politicians, and the rewriting of the constitution.

  • Civil Military Relations :

Turkey's history is marked by a tense relationship between the military and civilian governments. Civilian leaders often struggled to assert their authority over the military establishment.

  • Post - Cold War Period :

In the past Cold War era, Tukey experienced a period of democratic consolidation and reforms, partly driven by the desire to align with European Union (EU) membership criteria. During this time civilian control over the military appeared to strengthen.

  • The AKP Era :

The Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by Recap Tayyip Erdogan, came to power in 2002. Under its rule, there were efforts to reduce the military's political influence. Reforms included limiting the powers of the National Security Council, which was historically dominated by the military.

  • Ergenekon and Sledgehammer Tricks :

In the late 2000s and early 2010, a series of high-profile trials, known as Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials, targeted alleged coup plotters and elements within the military and security establishment. These trials led to the arrest and conviction of numerous military officers and further weakened the military's political influence.

  • The 2016 Coup Attempt :

In July 2016, elements within the military attempted a coup against President Erdogan's government. The coup attempt was met with strong resistance from civilian institutions and the public. Its failure resulted in a significant crackdown on perceived coup plotters and critics of the government.

  • Current Dynamics :

Turkey has experienced a significant shift in its political landscape, with the AKP-led government consolidating power and increasing control over various institutions, including the military.

  • Conclusion :

In a critical evaluation, it's essential to note that the role of military in Turkish politics has evolved over time, and its interventions have had both positive and negative  consequences. While  some argue that military interventions were necessary to protect secularism and stability, others see them as impediments to democracy and civilian rule. The recent developments in Turkey indicate a reduced role for the military in politics, but they also raise concerns about democratic governance and civil liberties. The ongoing debate over the military's role in Turkish politics reflects the complex and often polarized nature of Turkish society and politics.

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