Strong army, strong Turkey?

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“Ev­ery Turk is born a sol­dier,” as the ex­pres­sion has it. This re­mains largely true for Turk­ish men -- oc­ca­sional ex­cep­tions aside -- as Turkey en­forces na­tional ser­vice. But while en­thu­si­asm for and support of the mil­i­tary is still high in Turkey, the army’s in­flu­ence on the mech­a­nisms of civil­ian rule has weak­ened con­sid­er­ably in re­cent years. In­deed, not co­in­ci­den­tally per­haps, the army aban­doned its “Strong army, strong Turkey” motto in 2012, as its po­lit­i­cal clout reached an all-time low.

Nonethe­less, Turkey’s army is NATO’s sec­ond largest in terms of man­power and, in a coun­try where a majority of for­mer pres­i­dents were them­selves se­nior mil­i­tary men (al­beit in some cases tak­ing the pres­i­den­tial seat as the con­se­quence of a coup), the army con­tin­ues to be an iconic pres­ence and -- lit­er­ally -- a force to be reck­oned with. The fi­nal is­sue of Vol­ume 4 of Turk­ish Re­view takes a look at Turkey’s mil­i­tary.

Dr. Chris Kil­ford (Cen­tre for In­ter­na­tional and De­fence Pol­icy, Queen’s Univer­sity, On­tario) ex­am­ines the army’s Civic Train­ing for Mehmetçik pro­gram, which as­pires to teach Turkey’s sol­diers about top­ics in­clud­ing le­gal em­pow­er­ment, women’s rights and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion.

As diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween Turkey and Is­rael may have frozen over in re­cent years, mil­i­tary re­la­tions and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries have also de­te­ri­o­rated. Eyal Berelovich (Depart­ment of Is­lamic and Mid­dle East­ern Stud­ies, He­brew Univer­sity of Jerusalem) sug­gests that the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment’s wish to be­come self-suf­fi­cient was what ul­ti­mately led to the end of the two coun­tries’ de­fense-in­dus­try co­op­er­a­tion.

This is­sue, Yonca Poyraz Doğan speaks to Lale Ke­mal, de­fense ex­pert and jour­nal­ist, and Prof. Ümit Cizre of İstanbul Şe­hir Univer­sity’s Depart­ment of Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, about the re­form of Turkey’s mil­i­tary. Mean­while Last Word is with Sezin Öney, aca­demic and jour­nal­ist, who of­fers her views on Turkey’s de­fense struc­ture.

Aug. 1, 2014 saw the most far-reach­ing in­ter­na­tional treaty to fight vi­o­lence against women to date come into ef­fect. Vol-4/6 in­cludes a re­port from jour­nal­ist Ni­cole Pope on the Coun­cil of Europe Con­ven­tion on Pre­vent­ing and Com­bat­ing Vi­o­lence Against Women and Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence, known as the İstanbul Con­ven­tion, and Turkey’s likely per­for­mance un­der its “four Ps”: preven­tion, pro­tec­tion, pros­e­cu­tion and com­pre­hen­sive poli­cies.

And lastly, as 2014 comes to a close, Reviews and Briefs this is­sue in­cludes a wide se­lec­tion of books, as well as a round-up of con­fer­ences from the past year.

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