Nine reasons why TSK couldn’t be happier under commander-in-chief

The fact is that you could easily fill several Turkish dolmuses (minibus shared taxis) with foreign “experts” who predicted that every coup would be the last in Turkey. Nevertheless, the Turkish military knows full well that a military takeover today would be unpopular at home and abroad. And why bother when there are nine reasons why the TSK couldn’t be happier with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as their commander-in-chief.

Reason 1: The cancelation of the Chinese missile deal

In September 2013, Turkey selected a Chinese company to co-produce an air defense and anti-missile system in a contract worth $3.4 billion. It’s no secret that the TSK was dreadfully unhappy about the choice. A few weeks ago contract negotiations were abandoned.

Reason 2: Large-scale military purchases continue

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Turkey has the 15th highest military budget in the world. Meanwhile, Turkey remains on-track to purchase 100 F-35 fighter jets.

Reason 3: Large-scale military investments continue

The Turkish defense industry sector has grown at a rapid rate over the last decade and several major weapon development programs are underway. The Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) has a defense export target of $25 billion by 2023.

Reason 4: The Turkish military’s privately run pension system remains untouched by the government

Under the auspices of the Turkish Armed Forces Assistance Center (OYAK), founded after the 1960 coup, sits a massive military-run business empire ranging from construction companies to financial institutions.

Reason 5: The fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) continues

Privately, the military chafed under the government-led Kurdish opening, but no longer. After the June 2015 election, the AK Party abandoned its peace process and although hundreds have since been killed, the TSK is quite happy to be back in the business of bombing northern Iraq.

Reason 6: The Turkish government is not serious about the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)

By and large, Turkey’s anti-ISIL fight is a cover for conducting operations against the PKK. As noted above, the TSK is fine with this. Besides, they know the Turkish military is not prepared for major operations in Syria or Iraq. Fighting the PKK is bad enough, facing ISIL would be worse.

Reason 7: Turkish senior officers are no longer in jail

All those senior officers who were frequently paraded in front of the cameras a few years ago and eventually sent to jail for conspiring to overthrow the government are now free. This, after Turkey’s Constitutional Court unanimously ruled that their right to have a fair trial had been violated.

Reason 8: The Turkish government is destroying the Gulen movement

After the December 2013 corruption scandal and resignation of several Cabinet members, followers of Fethullah Gulen, who were accused by Erdogan of setting up a “parallel-state,” were purged from the government. As Gulen is a self-described “dedicated and pious” Muslim, and a former ally of Erdogan, a dedicated and pious Muslim, it is understandable why the TSK would have no issue with the government’s actions. Truly, for the military, what could be better than religious conservatives denouncing other religious conservatives?

Reason 9: A strong-willed presidency is no problem for the TSK

Perhaps the main reason why the TSK doesn’t need to confront the government these days is that it’s making a mess of things all by itself. Recalling the “Sledgehammer” coup case, the alleged intent was to create chaos in Turkey by blowing up mosques and provoking the Greeks to shoot down a Turkish fighter jet. The thought was that these actions would give the military more than enough reason to force the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) to step aside, or, at the very least, weaken Erdogan’s government. How ironic it is then to see the Turkish government conjure up 2 million Syrian refugees, suicide bombers and an angry Russia without the military having to lift a single finger.

Where does all this lead? It’s really hard to say, of course, but for the time being the TSK has little reason to stage a coup — it’s getting its heart’s desire without one, including political influence, which many observers long ago concluded it would never have again.


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