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    Barzani’s visit and advices about democracy
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 10 November 2011
    Increasing public pressure after the recent Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attacks has prompted the government to take action. Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Masoud Barzani came to Ankara last week, talked to senior officials and returned to his country. As usual, the main subject of the discussions was related to the PKK, which is exploiting northern Iraq as a safe haven. Barzani’s remarks in the wake of the discussions were so “diplomatic” and yet so “ambiguous.” [More]
    The TSK and the PKK fight - 2
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 03 November 2011
    In the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), it is the political establishment that determines the role of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) like all other government bodies. For example, according to the political authority, the existence of 6,000 armed militants in Turkey’s mountains and within the borders of a neighboring country and subsistence of active terrorist networks and sympathizers in its cities are just ordinary security problems. The police forces, certain parts of the gendarmerie units and only the TSK units responsible for the border ranging like a strip can overcome this “ordinary security problem.” If the political authority needs, it may temporarily authorize the TSK in exceptional circumstances. [More]
    The TSK and the PKK fight - 1
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 27 October 2011
    One of the most important factors affecting civil-military relations in Turkey has been the ongoing fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for the last three decades. More often than not, governments were criticized for delegating their responsibilities to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and losing their capacity to manage the problem and make policy. Nowadays, the TSK’s role and responsibilities in the fight against the PKK have diminished significantly. However, comments in media outlets about increasing military casualties and the TSK’s silence are an indication of a serious lack of information. The purpose of this article is to examine the fight against the PKK and the TSK’s role. This article will have two parts. I will first take a look at the broader picture. Next [More]
    Syria: Lessons in ‘armed struggle’ as the government changes strategy
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 13 October 2011
    Representatives of Syrian opposition groups, which are carrying on their activities in Istanbul, keep sharing their views on various issues with the media. The most interesting among those views were the remarks of deserted Col. Riad al-Asaad of the Syrian Air Force to The Independent on Oct. 10 on behalf of the Syrian Free Army. He said guerilla warfare was the sole way to topple the regime. We have no idea about the expertise of the Air Force colonel on this issue, but it is understood that opponents have been debating this strategy for regime change in Syria. This monologue has been penned out of sharing the wish of a writer who himself is also a citizen of a nation that struggled/is struggling with knotted guerilla warfare. [More]
    Whither the PKK problem?
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 06 October 2011
    Let’s take a closer look at how the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, have positioned themselves as constitutional debates, on the one hand, and terrorist activities, on the other, gain pace. [More]
    On Israeli-PKK relations – II
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 22 September 2011
    After the Cold War, Turkish-Israeli relations took a new shape. Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait was a source of trouble for both parties. Saddam, who was then in search of support and legitimacy against the coalition forces, targeted Israel with Scud missiles. Vigorous efforts of Turgut Özal to join the forces to be deployed in an operation to Iraq and close relations with the U.S. brought Turkey and Israel closer. [More]
    On Israeli-PKK relations - I
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 15 September 2011
    Tension between Turkey and Israel is continuing with conflicting interpretations of events, as well as doses of verbal warfare. It is remarkable that the debate is so structured as to provoke sensitivities and deepen fears on both sides. While the source of traditional fears and anxieties in Israel is the Palestinian question, Turkey's source of anxiety is the Armenian question and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. Although Turkey's approach toward the Palestinian question is well-known, the Israeli-PKK relationship is not so. This article aims to contribute to the ongoing debate by focusing on Israeli-PKK relations. [More]
    Guidelines for beginners to understanding civil-military relations in Turkey: Part IV
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 08 September 2011
    Today I will focus on how the developments mentioned in the previous analysis affect the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK. Understandably, the AKP government and its allies claim that they want civil-military relations to suit the Zeitgeist. To what extent the means used to achieve the targeted ends are appropriate remains an unanswered question. [More]
    Guidelines for beginners to understand civil-military relations in Turkey: III
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 25 August 2011
    From the first days of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, rule onward, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan knew that some generals were not happy with the new political situation. Thanks to open sources of information and intelligence, he was also able to see that this "unhappy" group led by some four-star generals was openly challenging the government. Until September 2005, Erdoğan and Co. decided to focus on the EU process, gather more information and observe the situation. [More]
    Guidelines for beginners to understand civil-military relations in Turkey: II
    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD 18 August 2011
    In 1999, the generals fully supported the government in making Turkey's ambition for EU membership a "state policy". They demonstrated their will by including that decision in the "National Security Policy Document". In other words, with that decision, Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) would have the same status and role as the armies of the EU member countries, and civil-military relations would be formed in accordance with those norms, once full membership is realized. [More]