When NATO meets in Chicago this weekend, intervention in Syria is
sure to be discussed - perhaps by Syria's neighbor, Turkey, which
presents itself as a democratic model for the Middle East with a
strong military. But questionable investigations of its military
undermine those claims.
When members of NATO gather at a summit in Chicago this weekend,
the issue of possible alliance intervention in Syria is bound to
come up - with the Turkish prime minister perhaps pushing the
Turkey is considered a model of democracy for a mostly Muslim
country. It has urged the president of its Syrian neighbor to step
down and the Syrian opposition to unify. Tens of thousands of
Syrians have taken refuge in Turkey and last month refugees there
came under cross-border fire.
"We have strong armed forces. ...and Syria must be aware that in
the event of a repetition of border violations, Turkey's stance will
not be the same," said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
But is Turkey's military really so strong, and is Turkey the
democratic model that so many think it is?
If a country's democracy were measured by the number of generals
arrested, Turkey would be, by far, the most advanced democracy.
Arrests of military figures have been going on for years but a new
wave began in early April after police stormed the houses of several
This is part of the investigation into what is known as the
military's "post-modern coup" of Feb. 28, 1997 - in which the
precursor to Mr. Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) was
eventually banned on charges of anti-secular activity. Modern Turkey
was founded on the principle of secularism; the AKP today describes
itself as a conservative democratic party. It sprang from the
The "February 28" trial is the latest in a series of legal probes
of the Turkish military by an AKP-friendly judicial branch.
The infamous "Ergenekon" trial, which began in 2008, has turned
into a massive legal undertaking consisting of several cases. More
than 250 people - including generals, politicians, academics, rights
activists, journalists, and even students - are being investigated
on charges that they belong to a clandestine terror network intent
on overthrowing the government of Erdogan's ruling party.
"Sledgehammer" is another case in which hundreds of retired and
active officers are being investigated over an alleged 2003 coup
plot against the AKP government.
Hundreds of retired and active officers are being investigated as
a part of these investigations. More than 180 of them are in pre-
trial detention, including the former chief of the Turkish armed
forces, former chiefs of the Navy and Air Force, and several high-
profile generals and admirals. More importantly, around 60 active
generals and admirals are behind bars, making up more than 19
percent of the Turkish military's top brass. …