News / Middle East

Erdogan Seeks to Further Curb Turkish Army's Power

FILE - Turkish soldiers in a military vehicle patrol the Turkish-Syrian border near the village of Hacipasa in Hatay province, Oct. 11, 2012.
FILE - Turkish soldiers in a military vehicle patrol the Turkish-Syrian border near the village of Hacipasa in Hatay province, Oct. 11, 2012.
Reuters
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government, which faced a wave of street protests and riots this month, moved on Thursday to amend an article of the Armed Forces charter cited by generals in the past to justify coups as defense of public order.
 
Since he was first elected in 2002, Erdogan has radically cut back the power of a military that had toppled four governments in 40 years. The last administration felled, in 1997, was led by an Islamist party to which Erdogan belonged.
 
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters the government had submitted proposals to parliament to amend article 35 of the charter, promulgated after a 1960 coup that resulted in the hanging of a prime minister. Erdogan has cited that prime minister, Adnan Menderes, as a political model.
 
The article was later used as the basis for interventions in 1970 and in 1980, to end months of left-right streetfighting, as well as 1997 when the army saw a danger from political Islam.
 
The amendment would replace the declared duty to “protect and watch over the republic” - a reference that for many Turks would imply strictly enforcing a secular order - with a more limited obligation to defend “the Turkish homeland against foreign threats”.

Coup allegations
 
Erdogan, who has won three elections and despite recent protests has no clear political rivals, denies accusations he seeks to overturn the 90-year-old secular order. But in speeches in recent weeks he has railed against what he sees as the oppression of pious muslims under previous governments.
 
Opponents accuse him of becoming increasingly authoritarian.
 
Hundreds of top officers have been arrested in recent years as part of an investigation into alleged plots against Erdogan. One, code-named 'Ergenekon' foresaw the engineering of street protests and killings opening the way for an army takeover.
 
Erdogan blamed this month's protests and rioting - the largest show of public defiance of his time in office - on a foreign-backed conspiracy involving market speculators, “terrorist” groups and looters.
 
The demonstrations drew in leftists, secularists, nationalists, professionals, unions and students after police used water cannon and tear gas in a heavy handed attempt to disperse an initial demonstration against the development of an Istanbul park.
 
Parliament will discuss the bill in October after its summer recess.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid