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It explores the nature of current pacts with respect to Turkish civil-military relations, and questions whether these pacts may actually be evidence of a deeper consolidation of Turkish democracy and the emergence of a new Turkish State. While pacts have long been considered crucial in making transitions away from authoritarian regimes,1 they have also included a sense of limitation—limiting the scope of change and limiting the actors involved.
While these have been considered positive attributes, particularly the restricting of pact partners to moderates on both sides,2 the narrowness aspect can also be seen as perhaps contributing to one of the most criticized aspects of pacts, namely that they may prevent further democratic consolidation by locking in existing privileges and potentially nondemocratic prac- tices for certain people.
It explores the nature of current pacts in Turkish civil-military relations, and questions whether these pacts may constitute a movement beyond the limited and restricting pacts of early stages of democratic transition, and whether they may, in fact, be evi- dence of pact making for deeper consolidation of Turkish democracy. First, however, the following section turns back to events since the mids that seem to have rendered it possible for a potentially new kind of pacts to be made and, ultimately, for the launching of the Ergenekon investigation.
Email: ersel bilkent. The country had experienced classic military interventions in and , in which the military took power into its own hands. In essence, the military encouraged and coordi- nated a societal reaction against the Islamist Welfare Party-led government of Necmettin Erbakan, leading to society-wide protests against the government.
It was within such a context that the military, during a National Security Council meeting on February 28, presented the government with a list of measures that the government should take. On this list were a number of items that would have been virtual political suicide for the Welfare Party to comply with e.
Unable to go along with or stand up against the concerted pressure in question, Erbakan was essentially forced to step down.
A new government, one more palatable for the military, came to power. This indirect and obviously more subtle style of intervention led some journalists to label that intervention as a post-modern coup. With respect to the unfavorable effects of the intervention of February 28, two things become clear. Some six years after the February 28 process, this particular tendency increasingly was displayed in different ways, and ultimately led to unprecedented changes both in perceptions of the military and its position in Turkish politics and society as well as within the relations between the military and the civilian government.
These two events also came to reveal evidence of a divide within the military, and eventually helped lower societal trust in the military. Both the bombings and the shooting were later linked to the Ergenekon case, with the judicial claim that absolutist circles had alleg- edly either coordinated these attacks or at minimum had tried to use them for persuad- ing people that the country was facing an Islamist-based reaction or even a potential counter-republican revolutionary mobilization.
The hope was that a widespread assumption of such a mobilization would have strengthened the absolutist wing of the military by discrediting the Islamist government and, by association, the gradual- ists in the military who were cooperating with them. A potential flashpoint for inciting tensions between the military and civilian leader- ships came about in spring Obviously con- cerned about possibly losing this critical position, the absolutist circles, in particular retired officers, cooperated with certain societal organizations in putting together mass demonstrations against the AKP government and its presumed standing regard- ing the presidential election.
Per- sonal accounts of those closely linked to the military leadership tell similar stories, that the e-memorandum was put together in a rushed manner, at late hours, and under the influence of pressure by absolutist circles. The e-memorandum appears to have been more intended therefore to satisfy absolu- tist demands within the military, and thus reflects the dual discourse that was necess- ary to establish a balance between the struggling absolutist and gradualist agendas.
The AKP gained This way a powerful message was sent to the absolutist wing of the Turkish military, and it seemed to strengthen the hand of the gradualists. While the Turkish Armed Forces retained its pos- ition with respect to various symbolic issues such as the ban on headscarf in the public space, on most major issues they agreed to work together with a lawfully elected president whose legitimacy no longer seemed questionable.
He emphasized that change was unavoidable and, therefore, leaders must adopt a strategy of controlled change. The subsequent continued erosion of the absolutist agenda, combined with the overwhelming election results of a political elite which had the know-how and self-confidence to deal with an internally transforming military, would lead to the most controversial yet important legal case trying to eradicate the absolutist political agenda and elements from the Turkish political system—Ergenekon.
The Divide in Their Own Words Before turning to the details of the actual Ergenekon case itself, it is important to note that more recent revelations about the internal dynamics of the military during the post-February 28 process years provide further evidence of the seriousness of the div- isions within the military, beyond the dualistic discourse described above. The Coup Diaries illustrated openly for the first time the divide within the military leadership.
Ultimately, the diaries revealed not only the divide but also the serious philosophi- cal differences that the two camps represented. Eruygur would later go on to lose the support of all but the most absolutist of generals and plan a coup by himself the failed Eldiven [glove] Plan ,26 and the Ergenekon investigations would follow to attempt to cleanse not only the military but the entire system of absolutist groups. The ensuing operation uncovered 27 hand grenades, some of which, it was revealed, had been produced by the Turkish state-owned armaments factory MKEK.
Soon after, there emerged in the press arguments that the serial numbers on the MKEK- produced grenades matched the ones used in earlier bombings of Cumhuriyet news- paper offices,27 the implication being that the bombings had been false flag operations by ultranationalist secularists aimed at discrediting Islamist groups.
On June 26, , a second police raid discovered weapons and explosives in the house of another retired army major, Fikret Emek. Eruygur and Tolon were ultimately arrested. At the time of writing June several waves have passed, scores of people have been detained, and three indictments have been submitted to the court.
An outlining of the categories of goals may help, however, to better understand the transforming nature of civil-mili- tary relations in Turkey. In the Ergenekon case, four different goals seem to have been adopted by four different groups. The first group consists largely of retired army officers who still seem to be in their pre-retirement mode of fighting for the integrity of the country.
Since many of these figures were once involved in counter-terrorism, they appear to see themselves as undercover warriors in an ongoing war against enemies of the state and, therefore, allegedly, have gone so far as to store weaponry and ammunition for the purpose of getting involved in illegal secret operations.
This group includes primarily people from academia and non-governmental organizations. The third group has a more mafia-like image, and includes those individuals and members of networks that seek legitimacy for themselves by entering into some kind of cooperation ad hoc or more permanent with the first group of retired military or security officers again in the name of saving the country.
Under that mantle, they tend to expect political and state protection for their underground activities. This is the group or force which, at the end, has constituted the primary driving force behind the absolutist presence in the Turkish hard realm— the so-called Turkish inner state. Moreover, this is the group whose destiny deeply affects the structure of civil-military relations in Turkey.
Subordination or removal of this group, more than any of the others, will allow the gradualists to complete their mission of putting the military under civilian control. The Ergenekon case, despite its controversy and faults, has succeeded in shedding light on allegedly illegal activities of these groups and their relationships, and the resulting coup or intervention potential that emerges out of them.
As a result, the need for a major transformation with respect to the role the Turkish military plays in politics and society, both psychologically and institutionally, has come to be widely accepted. The gradualists—who seem to be the rising force in the military—have clearly been playing a crucial role in the revolution- ary transformations taking place in Turkish civil-military relations. On the one hand, coup plans have not materialized mostly because the gradualists, by refusing to cooperate with the absolutist coup planners, have blocked such an attempt.
One example of this subtle cooperation was the so-called Cosmic Room incident. A behind the scenes collaboration of the soft realm and the gradualist elements within the hard realm paved the way for this judicial process to move forward and allow access to the Cosmic Room. Overall, the incident of the Cosmic Room revealed that the Turkish military leadership was not going to openly resist the investigation—a sign of accommodation and cooperation that would have been unimaginable a decade earlier.
This cooperation faced a powerful test when several four-star generals were inter- rogated in relation to what came to be known as the Balyoz [Sledgehammer] Coup Plan. The allegations were based on documents published in the daily newspaper Taraf on January 20, The plan included the bombing of two mosques and the bringing down of a Turkish jet, events projected to bring about martial law and the formation of a military cabinet.
Conclusion Despite all the managerial wrongdoings of Ergenekon and their at times tragic out- comes e. These changes are keys not just to understanding why the military has acquiesced with the Ergenekon investigation, but also to grasp- ing the new pattern of civil-military relations in Turkey.
In light of the Ergenekon investigation, those absolu- tists who might still be willing or courageous enough to attempt a military interven- tion are now more likely to be deterred by the possibility of an eventual indictment and prosecution. Similarly, those remaining state or societal institutions e. There appears to have been a change in the public mindset, one signaling entry into an era in which military takeovers may no longer be feasible or even desired.
This informal normative turn in the mindset of many is likely to become consolidated in the formal sphere, as legislation has been introduced to ensure democratic govern- ance and civilian control of the military. Proposed constitutional amendments, which have been passed by the parliament and are scheduled to be voted on in a public refer- endum, are the main pillars of this formal threshold.
The proposal includes amend- ments guaranteeing the privacy of personal information, making closure of political parties difficult, giving appeal rights to military officers who have lost their jobs due to High Military Council decisions, limiting the sphere of military jur- isdiction to military offences only, and reforming the Constitutional Court by empowering the Turkish Grand National Assembly to appoint four of the court members and reducing the number of military court members from two to one.
Most importantly, the proposed amendments will guarantee more civilian jurisdiction over the military by designating greater independence to juridical institutions in the election of members of the Supreme Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors.
The exposing of these flaws, added to the learned experiences of the civilian politicians from past coups and attempted interventions, helped create an environment in which formal and informal pacts were struck, in order to permanently revise the role of the military in the Turkish political system in a more democratic manner.
Throughout the gradual post-February 28 pact-building process and the Ergenekon investigation, the gradualists within the military leadership have managed to move to the forefront of the restructuring process of the Turkish state, cooperating with the civilians in order to negotiate a proper placing of the military in a liberal democracy.
Despite the criticisms of pacts in the democratic transition literature in recent years, the Turkish case seems to indicate that pacts can evolve into more sophisticated, diverse, and progressive formulations, which do not necessarily prohibit further democratic transformation.
By moving beyond the old style pacts, the consolidation of democracy may be possible. In the Turkish case, early pacts between the civilians and the military were indeed reached to form a tutelary regime in which the civilians could be satisfied with their realm, but the absolutists within the hard realm would call the ultimate shots. Events of the last two decades have shown, however, that both parties in this original pact have diversified, evolved, and gained in experience.
Most important has been the evolution and diversification within the hard realm. The maturing of this division—which became increasingly exposed after the February 28 process—made possible the formulating of new pacts for a true demo- cratic consolidation in Turkey. This new era of pacts seems to be one of multiplicity, in which the actors are numerous, heterogeneous and evolving—just like the new face of Turkey itself, a new Turkey in which the state does not own the society, but society, with all its competing elements and actors, may very well own the state.
Acknowledgements I would like to thank my research assistant and PhD student, Gonca Biltekin, for her invaluable help in preparing this piece, both in collecting data and in discussing the various arguments made.
Notes 1. Samuel Valenzuela, eds. Moreover, the Turkish military has been the inner core of one-half of a broader duality in the Turkish political system. In this article, the focus is on the Turkish military, the inner core of the hard realm. See fn. Nokta, March 29, The full text of the diaries was reprinted in the Istanbul daily Taraf, on July 6, Code of Criminal Procedure no.
Space limitations prohibit giving full attention to the many significant problems that have been pointed out in the conducting of the investigations, e.
Though not discussed in detail here, these faults run the serious risk of delegitimizing the entire case regarding a coup potential in Turkey. Related Papers. Civil-Military Relations Transformed. By Ersel Aydinli. The changing role of the military in Turkish politics: democratization through coup plots.
By Yaprak Gursoy. The reform-security dilemma in democratic transitions: the Turkish experience as model. Download pdf. Remember me on this computer.
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