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    Do you think Erdoğan is happy with the mass resignation of the generals?

    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD04 August 2011 - Okunma Sayısı: 1236


    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.

    In examining the issue, it is significant to consider the relationship between Gen. Işık Koşaner and Erdoğan, which is based on mutual understanding and respect. Koşaner is also known for his kindly and protective attitude towards his underlings. Contrary to most of the generals, he was not only respectful towards his superiors but also his underlings. Erdoğan was also aware of such attributes of Koşaner. I believe those who are closely acquainted with Erdoğan would say that such personal relations for an emotional, protective and a loyal leader, like Erdoğan, are very important. Though they have different ideas regarding the appointments and promotions in the Supreme Military Council, it is understandable for Erdoğan, in my opinion, that Koşaner is motivated to protect the rights of his brothers in arms. Therefore, I am sure that the resignations made Erdoğan "emotionally" sour.

    Additionally, for Erdoğan as a politically accountable leader, it is impossible to disregard the fact that the generals have resigned at the same time the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, accelerated its activities. Nowadays, the PKK would seek to benefit from a possible problem between the army and the government. In sum, the problems in civil-military relations in Turkey are disturbing for Erdoğan in terms of the struggle against the PKK.

    In addition, it is unarguably a bad spectacle for a leader, who desires to have a regional role, to be seen in conflict with their own military. It is a bad image, especially when whether Turkey can have a more active role in "Libyan crisis" is discussed behind the closed doors, or during the ongoing anxiety related to the upheaval in Syria.

    Furthermore, the resignations may lead to ambiguities in Erdoğan's roadmap as well. If there were no resignations, Erdoğan would have managed his relations with the army more evenly and seamlessly for a period of six years in power. He would have worked with Koşaner for the next two years, and then for four years with Gen. Necdet Özel, who is the future Chief of Staff. However, the resignations may lead to instabilities in the army that may affect Erdoğan's policies negatively prior to the presidential election.

    On the other hand, the "mainstream" President Gül, who mostly disappears during times of political crises, stressed after the Friday Prayer that he would use his legitimate powers for the promotions in the Supreme Military Council. Apparently, Gül has not forgotten the reactions in the military against him when he became the president. He seems to leave new problems for Erdoğan and Gen. Özel while trying to repair his humiliation. The task is difficult for Erdoğan and Gen. Özel: They, on the one hand, have to keep the balance within the army in order to prevent future trouble; on the other, they have to tolerate the aforementioned approach of Gül.

    This commentary was published on 04.08.2011 in Hürriyet Daily News.