Erdogan Seeks Direct Presidential Control of Turkey’s Military, Spy Agency

Post-Coup Environment Threatens Traditional Autonomy

According to officials familiar with the situation, President Erdogan’s “overhaul” of the Turkish military after a failed coup earlier this month is centered around an effort to bring the armed forces, as well as the national intelligence agency, directly under presidential control.

This continues Erdogan’s general trend to centralize power under his control, but marks a dramatic change for the structure of Turkey, which historically has granted the military a broad level of autonomy from the elected government, a system meant to set them up as a guarantor of Turkey’s democracy.

This has had a checkered history itself, with the autonomous military often feeling itself entitled to launch coups d’etat throughout modern history, sometimes nominally to “save” democracy, and sometimes just to increase their own power in the face of a rival. Erdogan has been seen as a threat to military autonomy for awhile now, which meant the coup was considered by many inevitable.

Though the purge of Turkey’s military has left some 40% of the nation’s generals and admirals detained, the “overhaul” doesn’t appear to be making changes to the very top of Turkey’s military leadership, with the chief of staff and other chiefs all retaining their posts.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of