Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Büyükanıt Assures, Yes, The TSK Is Still Toeing a Hard Line

Although largely discredited and soon to be replace, General Yaşar Büyükanıt, Chief of the Turkish Armed Forces, assured that many in the TSK still adopt a hardline stance when it comes to the "internal threats" of Islamism and Kurdish separatism. The good general also attacked EU security policy and talked extensively about foreign assistance being rendered to the PKK (see March 16 post).

From Gareth Jenkins: After the humiliating failure of its attempt in spring 2007 to prevent Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul from being appointed Turkish President, the military has adopted a low public profile when it comes to Turkish domestic politics. Buyukanit is believed to continue to take the opportunity of his weekly meetings with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to warn him of the military’s concerns about what it believes is the threat secularism by the ruling Justice Development Party (AKP), particularly its recent attempts to lift the headscarf ban in Turkish universities. Publicly, however, Buyukanit has been more circumspect, avoiding explicit criticism of the AKP while issuing occasional subtle reminders that the TGS remains as committed as ever to protecting secularism (see EDM, January 31).

Even though the military still casts a long shadow over Turkish politics, public opposition to the AKP’s attempts to lift the headscarf ban has been led by the other bastion of the country’s secular establishment, namely the judiciary. On March 31 the Constitutional Court began hearing a case brought by Public Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya calling for the closure of the AKP on the grounds that it had become a focus for anti-secular activities (see EDM, April 1). Whether intended or not, the timing of what is the longest and most detailed interview Buyukanit has ever given to any media organization will have reassured many hard-line secularists that there has been no decrease in the military’s resolve

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