The Turkish Parliament on Saturday amended an army regulation that had paved the way for military intervention in politics — another step in years of attempts by the pro-Islamic government to rein in the power of an army once prone to staging coups.
The country’s generals had often cited an article of the regulation, about safeguarding the republic, as the legal backing for overthrowing governments they believed were undermining republican principles in the constitution, such as secularism.
The army toppled four governments from 1960 and 1997, and issued a warning to the current government as recently as 2007.
As rewritten, the article, No. 35, restricts the army to “defending the Turkish nation against external threats and dangers”, the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency reported.
The change is something of a formality, since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already succeeded in largely pushing the army back to its barracks with a number of structural changes, such as the elevation of civilian authority in the once army-driven National Council. Hundreds of high-ranking officers have been put on trial, many of them accused of plotting to stage another coup.
The legislation came after large anti-government riots in June, as protests about the razing of a park grew into demonstrations against what many called Mr. Erdogan’s autocratic tendencies. Although the army did not step into the conflict, Atilla Sandikli, director of the Ankara-based Wise Men Centre for Strategic Studies, said the wording change was also an effort to ensure it would not do so. — New York Times News Service