The Turkish army: a history of coups | BMPD

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Military coups, repression, secret organizations, and the war in Syria: Turkish army has long been significantly affect the course of Turkish history. Internet portal “Газета.Ru” published excerpt from the book “the Turkish war machine: the strength and weakness”, which is prepared by the Center for analysis of strategies and technologies under the editing of Alexander Vasiliev.


The reforms of Ataturk

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, formulated the new concept of participation of the armed forces in the political life of the country. The army was tasked to ensure the safety of the Republic from external and internal enemies, and to ensure the implementation of reforms and modernization of society and economy.

Thus were created the prerequisites for legitimizing the army’s intervention in political life of the country, although the Ataturk was convinced that the army must be separated from politics.

For your modernization project of Ataturk in 1923, has created the people’s Republican party (CHP). In 1931 IUU fishing, adopted the programme, which consisted of six arrows (principles of Kemalism: republicanism, nationalism, nationalism, statism, laicism and revolutionary. These principles form the doctrine of the ruling party, and in 1937 was also enshrined in the Constitution (adopted in 1924). Since the formation of the Republic army has always proclaimed his loyalty to the six principles of Kemalism.

The transition to a multiparty system

In mid-1940-ies in the political life of Turkey has experienced important changes associated with the transition to a multiparty system. In 1946 Jallal Bayar and Adnan Menderes became the new Democratic party (DP). In 1950, the DP won a landslide victory in the elections to the Parliament — the Grand national Assembly of Turkey (TGNA). IUU fishing took second place. The victory was achieved thanks to the criticism of the attacks on Islam IUU fishing and IUU fishing in the charge of inefficient management of the economy.

However, in 1945 among the Turkish officers had a secret group who planned a military coup to overthrow the dictatorship of IUU fishing and the establishment of a multiparty system. With the coming to power of the DP, these officers were hoping for change in the social and economic status of military personnel, carrying out long-overdue military reform and rejuvenation of the officers. However, DP did not meet their expectations.

The first military coup

In the late 1950-ies, the DP government tried to prohibit IUU fishing, which led to mass street unrest and clashes between supporters of these parties. In the night from 26 to 27 may 1960, the Ankara garrison of soldiers and cadets of military schools under the leadership of Colonel Alparslan of Tyurkesh took all the administrative buildings in the capital. Power passed into the hands of the Committee of national unity (KNE) headed by General Cemal Gurzelen. DP was banned and its leader, Prime Minister Menderes and his supporters tried and executed.

Almost immediately after the coup in KNE stood out the supporters of a moderate political course, advocated the return of power to political parties and ultra-nationalists, who advocated the preservation of a military dictatorship.

The result was the attempted purge of the army from the radicals and the old cadres, during which the army was dismissed more than 5 thousand officers, which was considered unreliable.

In 1961 it adopted a new Constitution, which contained the justification of military intervention on may 27. October 15, 1961 was held new parliamentary elections, but NRP didn’t get enough votes to form a single party government and joined the unit with a new justice Party (PS).

The struggle for power in the 1960-1970-ies. The second military coup

After the military coup of 1960 the military continued to indirectly control the position of retaining the presidency. In 1965 was held the next elections to the Assembly, which defeated the SS. During the next election in 1969 IUU fishing was again out of work, and most got the SS. At the same time in Turkey, a large number of radical political groups.The largest among them were people’s liberation army of Turkey “Milli Gorush (national vision”), headed by Nejmeddin Erbakan and the nationalist movement Party (MHP) led by Alparslan the Tyurkesh. These and other smaller parties in its activities in the late 1960s – early 1970-ies have used assassinations, kidnappings and terror to achieve their political goals.

12 March 1971 the chief of the General staff M. Tagmac issued a Memorandum in which the armed forces demanded to disband the ineffective government of Suleyman Demirel (founder and leader of the SS) and to form a non-partisan government to eliminate unrest and reform. It was stressed that otherwise, sun will be forced to intervene.

The government resigned, but the military kept Parliament to amend the Constitution, and not to prosecute members of the SS.

The army has tightened in the country, censored the press, forbade strikes, rallies, conducted a series of arrests of political activists.

The third military coup

After the elections to the Parliament in October 1973 the government again moved to parties. Most places received IUU, SS, NTC (national salvation Party, under the chairmanship of Erbakan, who advocated the revival of Islam in Turkey) and IPA. No party received a majority, 1974-1980 has had seven coalition governments.

By the end of 1970-ies on the background of economic difficulties and government crisis in Turkey once again begin a bloody political clashes.

After a call to political leaders to unite to overcome the crisis have failed, September 12, 1980 military coup. The power passed to the national security Council (NSC) headed by the chief of the General staff General Kenan Avroom. Was formed the non-partisan government. The existing parties decided to dissolve it, arrest their leaders and to convey all the property of the party to the Treasury. However, members of the SS and RUP almost without reprisals. The main blow was thrown at the NTC (Erbakan) and HDPE (Tyurkesh).

Were strengthened censorship of the media and control over the universities, which were considered the main centers for the dissemination of leftist ideas.

Immediately after the coup, the military has announced his firm intention to restore civilian rule. In October 1981 began the work of founding the Parliament, consisting of the NSC (as upper chamber) and the Advisory Council consisting of 160 generals appointed members. A draft of the new Constitution, which was adopted through a popular referendum in November 1982.

In a national referendum was elected President Kenan Evren for a period of seven years. Under the new Constitution, the President was given the right to dissolve Parliament, convene a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers to declare martial law in the country, to appoint the higher officers of the Executive and legislative authorities, to preside at meetings of the NSC. The introduction of such broad powers to the President was due to the extremely complicated political situation in the country.The Constitution forbade political parties to create a youthful and female sections to establish contacts with other public organizations. Former party leaders were prohibited from participating in political activities for 10 years.

The military did not allow the reconstitution of old political parties and demanded that the elections in November 1983, involved the new party.

Restart the party system

In preparation for the elections of the new party, whose statutes and programme were subjected to strict military control and subject to their conformity with the provisions of the new laws. The elections were allowed only the Party of the Fatherland (FOR), led by Turgut Ozal, the Populist party (NP) headed by Necdet Jalpa, which became the successor to the NRP, the National democratic party (NDP), headed by retired General Turgut Analpa (dissolved in 1986). Won received enough seats in Parliament to form a single-party government.

In 1984 was created the right path Party (EPP), which became the successor of the SS. In the same year was established the Social democratic party, which soon merged with the NP and formed the Social democratic populist party (SDNP). Was also established the Democratic left party (DLP), which is claimed to be the successor to NRP. Appeared Pro-Islamic welfare Party (SP), the successor of the NTC. Was also recreated the IPA, though a bit under a different name — the Party of nationalist activities.In 1987 lifted the ban for former party leaders to participate in political life. And again at the head of parties stood the old chiefs: Demirel (PVP) (in the 1990s he was succeeded by Tansu Ciller), bülent Ecevit (DLP), Erbakan (SP) and Tyurkesh (HDPE).

In 1991, as a result of new elections came to power, the coalition government of PVP-SDNP. However, the schism in the coalition has led to the fact that in the parliamentary elections in December 1995 won the Pro-Islamic IB. Shortly after the collapse of the coalition broke up and the SDNP, instead of which was established NRP as a party-the successor of Ataturk’s principles. The government crisis continued until June 1996, when Erbakan failed to agree with Chiller on the coalition.

From this moment begins to increase the influence of PB and its leader began to take some steps to limit “excessive Western influence”.

His attempts to improve relations with Libya and Iran, as well as offers his assistant in the party of Abdullah gül to establish a common Islamic market, Islamic customs Union, angered the military leadership. At the meeting of the NSC on 28 February 1997, recommendations to the authorities about the necessity of the prohibition of PB as a threat to the secular regime, was sent to the government a Memorandum. 22 February 1998 the constitutional court decided on the dissolution of PB. The Erbakan was banned for five years from engaging in political activity.At the end of the 2002 elections came to power recreated IUU fishing and the ideological successor party of Erbakan, the Party of justice and development party (AKP) headed by Abdullah gül, have declared themselves as the party of moderate Islam. The AKP gained the majority of votes and formed a single-party government.

At its head stood Gul, who in March 2003 gave way to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey 2007-2008: history repeats itself?

In April 2007, the President of Turkey was nominated as the representative of the Pro-Islamic AKP, Abdullah gül. The generals of Turkey painfully reacted to the prospect that along with the post of Prime Minister, the Islamists will occupy the post of President. On April 27 in Parliament, which, according to the Constitution, elected the President, held the first round of presidential elections. On the same day, on the eve of voting, on the website of the General staff of the Turkish Republic there was a statement that during the elections challenged the secular way of the country.The opposition, also, argued that for decision making on the nomination of the President shall require a quorum of 367 people. The opposition parties did not come to the meeting, and the AKP (357 seats in Parliament out of 550) failed to gain the necessary 367 votes.

Under pressure from the military, Mr Erdogan has promised to nominate for the presidency a compromise candidate. But at the last moment the Prime Minister agreed with the re-nomination of Gul, to demonstrate to rank and file members of his party from the rural and urban poor ability to resist pressure from the military and secular elite. 6 may was the second round of presidential elections, which also failed to recruit the necessary number of participants. The question of the nomination of a new President was finally resolved on August 28 by a vote of a majority of the members of Parliament, who became Abdullah Gul.

In June 2007 the scandal connected with the theft of ammunition retired military.

The investigation revealed that the suspects in the theft were involved in a secret organization “Ergenekon”. This organization was created to shadow control the political processes in the country, using methods of terror, kidnapping, blackmail, eliminate the unwanted.

During June – July 2007 was carried out the first wave of arrests, was arrested a few retired military, criminal “authorities”, businessmen and journalists.

Within seven months, the Prosecutor and the court studied the case materials, conducted interviews of suspects and witnesses. On February 22 and March 22 passed a new series of high-profile arrests. This time could have been both retired and active high-ranking generals and officers, famous journalists and public figures, and politicians. The number of those arrested went to ten. Hundreds of people called as witnesses.

In March 2008, the General Prosecutor of Turkey A.. has applied to the constitutional court with a request to ban the ruling AKP due to the fact that it undermines the foundations of secularism in the country. The court refused: out of 11 of its members for a ban of the party voted only six judges (out of seven is required). This decision, on the one hand, allowed us to avoid a government crisis, military intervention and the deteriorating economic situation in the country. On the other hand, the AKP leadership has shown that it can withstand the pressure of the army.Some observers linked the decision of the COP to the new arrests in the case of “Ergenekon”, which took place on the eve of consideration of the issue.

Arrests suspected of participation in the “Ergenekon” continued from July 2008 to January 2009. In the course of arrests were devastated intelligence and counter-terrorism structure of the Turkish gendarmerie and army. The case itself was divided into a number of smaller episodes and processes. In General, under the steamroller of repression were those who could influence the formation of public opinion, as well as active and retired officers, generals and admirals.Were revealed numerous cases of illegal arms trade, the participation of special forces of the gendarmerie in the political repression against national and religious minorities. Was discovered numerous documents that established the plans for the preparation of a coup.

The trials of members of the “Ergenekon” was perceived in Turkish society is ambiguous, noted numerous procedural violations, inconsistencies.

Repressions against the military and the worsening of Turkey’s relations with its neighbours

In early 2010, the Prosecutor of Istanbul on the basis of materials Ergenekon launched an investigation against high-ranking generals and admirals who planned in 2003, a military coup under the code name “Sledgehammer” in connection with the election victory of the AKP, but under pressure from the then chief of Turkish General staff Hilmi Ozkok the conspirators did not dare to speak. By 2012, as witnesses in the case were interviewed more than 365 people, 325 of whom (mostly generals and admirals) have received real prison terms.

According to the results of cases of “Ergenekon” and “Sledgehammer” the Turkish army has lost approximately 17% of officers. This has caused great damage to the combat capability of the Turkish army.

However, in June 2014 a Turkish court freed 234 officer from custody, acknowledging that the investigation had violated legal norms, as part of the evidence was not credible. This probably was due to the acute need for professional military personnel, able to conduct military planning.

In March 2014, the Turkish press was leaked audio recording of a secret government meeting, which was attended by the then Minister of foreign Affairs A. Davutoglu, chief of General staff TR Yasar Guler and the Director of the national intelligence service of Turkey (MIT) Hakan Fidan. Discussed the organization of provocation against the Turkish military, which was supposed to be a pretext for Turkish invasion of Syria. However, after the publication of the recordings in YouTube the invasion was postponed. However, there was a momentary period of reconciliation with the disgraced military.

After the failure for the AKP election on 7 June 2015 again began to circulate rumors about the preparation of the Turkish military and the policy of intervention in Syria to prevent the establishment there of an independent Kurdish state. At the meeting of the Supreme military Council of Turkey on 30 August 2015 the number of senior officers who were previously under investigation on charges of preparing a coup, was officially rehabilitated, and some even got promoted. Davutoglu discussed with his generals the preparedness of Turkey to a regional war.

According to leaks in the Western press, the invasion of Turkish troops was to begin on the part of the Syrian territory between the settlements Jarabulus and Azaz. The purpose of the invasion was to prevent the creation of a Kurdish state, to demonstrate against ISIS (banned in Russia. — “Газета.Ru”) and create a buffer zone on the border with Turkey and Syria (up to 30 km in depth of the Syrian territory and to 110 km in length) to accommodate the refugees, threatening social stability in Turkey.

According to preliminary calculations, the invasion was supposed to happen in mid-December 2015. However, the accession of the Russian VKS in the fighting in Syria has mixed the cards of the Turkish leadership.

In February – March 2016 the Turkish media has actively urged people to be prepared for intervention in the situation in Syria, where you have to help the opposition to deal with Assad. Apparently, the plans for a military invasion was postponed to spring.

But the unexpected announcement of Vladimir Putin on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria again caused confusion among the Turkish leadership.

The generals, nevertheless, had not forgotten nor forgiven his disgrace during the trials. In terms of social, political and economic instability in Turkey, the officers had a chance to return to power and end the hated party and the government.

However, the officers were forbidden to stand as candidates in the elections and starting a political career, they had to resign from the army as it once did himself and Mustafa Kemal.

Stauffenberg was Right!

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