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Erdogan's Turn to the Kemalists

How It Will Shape Turkish Foreign Policy

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar at a parade in Ankara, August 2015.  Umit Bektas / REUTERS

Turkey’s military leaders rarely make public appearances at political events. But on August 7, General Hulusi Akar, the country’s chief of staff, appeared in uniform before a rally of more than a million people in Istanbul, alongside President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, and the leaders of the Turkish opposition. Through numerous interruptions for applause, Akar thanked Turkey’s civilians for helping to quash July’s coup attempt and told the assembled crowd that the “traitors” behind that event would be punished harshly.

The vision of unity among the people, the military, and elected officials presented at the rally stood in sharp contrast to the bloody images that emerged after July’s unrest, which showed soldiers lynched by crowds and generals tortured by the police. It also underscored a transformation that is under way in the relationship between Turkey’s government and its military. Erdogan is attempting

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