Guidelines for beginners to understand civil-military relations in Turkey: Part I
11 August 2011
Last week's generals' resignations received wide coverage both by media and on the agenda of the political elite. So much attention could be extraordinary for some people; however, understanding the nature of the civil-military relationship in Turkey - without drifting with the tide of the daily ideological debates - is only possible with some background information. My intention is to contribute to understanding the nature of the civil-military relationship in Turkey, and the direction it's going.
Do you think Erdoğan is happy with the mass resignation of the generals?
04 August 2011
There are two essential political actors who managed the period that has ended up with the resignations of the generals. First is President Abdullah Gül, and second is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Although everyone interprets what is going on, Erdoğan has not commented on the issue yet. One should not be deceived by those celebrating the so-called "victory of the government." On the government's side, those who predictably have spoken on Erdoğan's behalf are quite cautious so far. It does not seem like they enjoy "a historic victory against the army." It is undeniable that Erdoğan's "sourness" is behind this extreme caution. In order to fully comprehend it, we have to focus on some issues.
How can the PKK problem be managed? Lessons learned from Erdoğan
28 July 2011
Since 1972, Turkey has been struggling against the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, that has the desire to found "an independent Kurdish state." The problem is quite sophisticated and can be examined from different perspectives such as ethnicity, human rights and insurgency.
How can Turkey benefit from Gen Petraeus’ experience?
21 July 2011
Last week, Turkey had an important visitor: Hillary Rodham Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state. Her appearance on TV overlooking the Bosphorus with President Abdullah Gül and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was quite impressive. This seemed to be a message to the public about the strong cooperation between "the allies." Their agenda was most probably a long one, including the current position of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi, the Syrian problem, the anti-Iran missile shield, and ways to rejuvenate the deteriorating relations between Israel and Turkey.
Arab Spring, ‘model’ debate and the Turkish experience
14 July 2011
Three distinct groups of people believe that Turkish democracy was built after the 2002 general elections. First are some cunning Westerners. They present Turkey as an example in order to deal with events in the Middle East with the least possible damage and to pacify political Islamists. "Be patient, look at Turkey," they say. "You can come to power without causing too much trouble."
Israeli army doing its homework
07 July 2011
Statistics show the number of inter-state conflicts after the end of the Cold War has considerably decreased. Nevertheless, the role of soldiers in security issues has not diminished. It changed character, diversified and got more sophisticated. Politicians and the public want the army to both respond to symmetric threats and deal with terrorism, insurgency, civil wars and peace-building. Generals are not able to quickly adapt to the demands of such hybrid missions, which subsequently leads to an uneasy transition.
Will Turkey risk fighting with Syria?
29 June 2011
U.S. taxpayers have spent $ 1 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many Western soldiers have lost lives there as well. No one in the United States or in the Europe wants to waste money and lives anymore. The politicians and generals are under serious pressure. In Western democracies, citizens have demonstrated in the elections that they do not want to fight.
Turkey-Syria-Iran triangle is being redrawn
23 June 2011
The invasion of Iraq made the Sunni-Shiite polarization in the Middle East more apparent than ever. This was more obvious during the struggle over Iraq. Turkey tried hard to locate itself beyond the orbit of this polarization and sought ways to develop good relations with both sides: that is, Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the one hand and the new Iraq, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, on the other hand. Turkey utilized various opportunities during those times.
When will things (hopefully) get better in Syria?
15 June 2011
It was about five years ago, I guess, when we visited Syria with a friend of mine who was getting ready to make an investment in the country. I remember our long conversations during which I raised some of my concerns about the country's political situation. Anyway... My friend took the risk and made quite good money until now.