Erdoğan directs army with nationalist zeal - analyst

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the first civilian head of state to truly enforce constitutional powers over the military, is availing himself of that authority liberally, ordering Turkish forces into Syria twice in the past 18 months, Steve A. Cook said in Foreign Policy.

The military in Turkey, which until Erdoğan ruled the defence hierarchy and held great sway over politicians, is now at Erdoğan’s beck and call, and the president has ditched traditional Turkish military tactics of swift, limited incursions in Syria and Iraq for more prolonged campaigns, Cook said.

“Erdoğan the military commander is largely similar to Erdoğan the politician — there are strains of both the risk taker and the pragmatist in his Syrian foray,” he said. “But one thing has remained consistent about the president’s military leadership: the self-reinforcing and unrestrained nationalist zeal of his rhetoric, in his descriptions of both the military’s goals and its progress. There is also an unmistakable emphasis on Islamist themes.”

A previous campaign in Syria, launched just five weeks after an attempted military coup in July 2016, was badly organised and commanded, leading to the deaths of between 35 and 70 Turkish soldiers, Cook said.

“Erdoğan seems to have approached the most recent venture-- with its awkward code name, “Olive Branch” -- a bit differently, which is understandable given the higher stakes involved,” he said.