Turkey's Next Military Coup

How Empowering the Generals Could Backfire

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar at a funeral ceremony for a Turkish army officer killed in clashes with Kurdish militants, in Ankara, February 2016. Umit Bektas / REUTERS

Before Turkey took an authoritarian turn under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, many thought that the former head of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) would go down in history as the leader who finally tamed Turkey’s military and resolved the country’s decades-long conflict with the Kurds. Such hopes now seem outrageously misplaced. Erdogan has given the military a blank check to wage war against Kurdish insurgents and has struck a cozy alliance with the generals. For his part, Erdogan must believe he is killing several birds with one stone. The military campaign against the Kurds both weakens the country’s largest minority, which recently dealt a blow to Erdogan’s ambitions for unchecked power, and consolidates his power among the country’s nationalists. Along the way, Erdogan might mend ties with the country’s long-estranged military, which could come in handy as his domestic and international opponents begin

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