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The Routledge Handbook of Turkish Politics
Until recent decades, the military, on the whole, played a special role both in the Ottoman and Republican polities. In circa 1299, a military force, at the time consisting of warlords, formed the Ottoman principality. Later, in the Empire, as in the Turkish Republic, the centre/state had a more elevated status vis-à-vis the community/civil society and, until recently, the military remained the backbone of that state. By the end of the nineteenth century, the military, along with the civil bureaucracy, became first the object and then the subject of modernisation. A large number of Westernising leaders came from the military ranks. In 1909, they helped depose Sultan Abdülhamid II (1876–1909) to bring about a more consultative regime and do away with the Sultan’s personal rule. During the next decade, the military involved itself in the day-to-day politics of the empire. The Ottoman staff officer, Adjutant-Major Atatürk1 disapprovingly depicted those later years as follows: ‘As long as members of the military remain in the [governing] Committee [of Union of Progress], neither shall we [be able to] set up an [effective political] party nor shall we [be able to] have a [subservient] military’ (Turfan 2000, 15).