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By dint of the influence it has exerted on politics since the early days of the Turkish republic, the military constitutes the country's most important interest group. Atatürk and his principal allies all were career officers during the final years of the Ottoman Empire. Although Atatürk subsequently endeavored to separate the military from political affairs, he nevertheless considered the army to be the "intelligentsia of the Turkish nation" and "the guardian of its ideals." By the time of Atatürk's death in 1938, the military had internalized a view of itself as a national elite responsible for protecting the Six Arrows of Kemalism. Prior to 1960, the military worked behind the scenes to ensure that the country adhered to the guidelines of the Kemalist principles. However, in 1960 senior officers were so alarmed by government policies they perceived as deviating from Kemalism that they intervened directly in the political process by overthrowing the elected government and setting up a military regime. The military saw its mission as putting the country back on the correct path of Kemalism. Believing by October 1961 that this goal had been achieved, the officers returned to the barracks, whence they exercised oversight of civilian politicians.

The 1960 coup demonstrated the military's special status as an interest group autonomous -- if it chose to be -- from the government. On two subsequent occasions, in 1971 and 1980, the military again intervened to remove a government it perceived as violating Kemalist principles. The 1980 coup resulted in a longer transition period to civilian government and the imposition of more extensive restrictions on political rights than had the earlier interventions. At the start of 1995, some fourteen years after the coup, senior officers in the armed services still expected the civilian president and Council of Ministers to heed their advice on matters they considered pertinent to national security. For instance, the military defines many domestic law-and-order issues as falling within the realm of national security and thus both formulates and implements certain policies that the government is expected to approve.

Last Updated: January 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Turkey was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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Section 153 of 206


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