After Military Resignations, How Emboldened is Turkey’s Erdogan?

After Military Resignations, How Emboldened is Turkey’s Erdogan?

Friday's mass resignation by Turkey's top general, Isik Kosaner, and the commanders of the country's army, navy and air force was a clear sign that the long-running battle between the military and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been decisively won by the government and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But the neutralization of the Turkish military as a political force will also bring with it greater pressure on the increasingly powerful AKP, which must now demonstrate that it can continue Turkey's democratization process -- particularly the drafting of a new, civilian-minded constitution -- in an inclusive manner.

Kosaner and his colleagues resigned just before today's start of the twice-yearly meeting of the High Military Council (YAS), where military promotions are determined. The move, in which they technically submitted their early retirements, was a protest against a number of ongoing court cases that have led to the arrest of some 250 military personnel, among them several generals and admirals.

In a country where previously the pattern had been for the generals to force the politicians out of office by making their life unbearably miserable, the commanders' walkout certainly represented a dramatic turn of events, though not a surprising one. Since coming into office in late 2002, Erdogan and the AKP had slowly whittled away the military's power, while increasing the amount of civilian oversight over the previously unaccountable Turkish armed forces.

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