Monday, August 27, 2007

Turkish Military Issues Stern Warning

According to the Associated Press:

Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, Chief of General Staff for the politically potent Turkish military, published a statement  on the military's Web site, sternly warning that "our nation has been watching the behavior of those separatists who cannot embrace Turkey's unitary nature, and the behavior of 'centers of evil' who systematically try to corrode the secular nature of the Turkish Republic."

"Nefarious plans to ruin Turkey's secular and democratic nature emerge in different forms everyday.  The military will, just as it hasthrough history, keep its determination to guard social, democratic and secular Turkey."

This is no idle threat. The Turkish Armed Forces are granted special status by that nation's Constitution, and it views itself as the steadfast guardian of Kemalism, the ideology embraced by Mohammed Kemal Ataturk.

The military has staged coups in 1960, 1971, 1980 and most recently, 1997. Each time the military has returned the reins of political power to civilian authorities after a brief period of control by military junta. The 1960 coup was staged by junior grade officers. The 1971 coup was staged after the military learned of an impending leftist coup attempt. The 1980 coup took place after the military had established Martial Law in 1978. Each time, the military invoked the Kemalist tradition of secularism and state unity, proclaiming themselves the defenders against communism, fascism, sectarianism and religious fanaticism.

In 1997, just the sight of tanks in the streets was enough to cause the government to step down. However, it remains to be seen if Islamists will be so meek in the face of the military.

The current Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, is in a bid to become President of the Republic. The military has accused Gul of being too closely tied to Islamist factions, foreign and domestic. Gul is expected to win the office. The military will watch his actions closely, and if there is even the slightest indication that the civilian authorities will institute islamic principles, the military will intervene in the fifth putsch of the post WWII era.