The Justice and Development Party and the military: recreating the past after reforming it?
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Secular and islamic politics in Turkey: the making of the Justice and Development Party
The landslide election victory, in November 2002, of Turkey’s Islam-sensi-tive Justice and Development Party (JDP)—the offspring of a banned Islamist party1-has opened up the possibility for a dramatic change in the character and content of Turkey’s domestic and foreign policies. Significantly, as part of the democratic requirements of entry into the European Union (EU), the government included in its reform agenda the resetting of the civil-military balance in favor of constitutionally elected organs. This essay assesses the international and domestic catalysts as well as the JDP government’s political motives and policies directed at the balance of power that has served to sustain the military’s self-ordained ‘guardian’ role in Turkish public life. The focus on the military is selective: the essay acknowledges that the Turkish military is a prominent member of the secular establishment comprising the president of the republic, the segment of the judiciary dealing with regime and national security issues (i.e., public prosecutors, the constitutional court and the former state security courts), high echelons of the civilian bureaucracy and, especially, the foreign ministry, which has historically formulated and conducted foreign policy in close coordination with the Turkish General Staff. However, beyond the basic interest that all the agents of the establishment share in their distrust of the JDP’s policy agenda, a slightly different set of incentives and constraints apply to the military in its thinkings over and dealings with the JDP because of its ‘guardian’2 role. Let us note that the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) redefined and intensified its ‘guardian’ mission in the last decade in stronger terms to lock out Islamic and Kurdish ‘threats’ from public life, causing a shift in civil-military balance further in its favor. In other words, during the 1990s, changes in civil-military relations in Turkey were intimately connected with the armed forces’ identification of political Islam and the Kurdish question as the foremost internal threats to the secular character of the Turkish state.
Civil military balance
Civil military equation
Civil military relations