In 2010, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sat beside the armed forces chief at an annual meeting to decide on appointments in the military command. On Monday, he sat alone at the head of the table, a symbol of civilian authority over the generals whose top commanders resigned last week in a dispute with the government. The symbolism of the seating scheme delivered the message that Turkey’s military, which once staged coups and presided over the writing of the constitution in the early 1980s, had lost another battle in a power struggle with a government with strong electoral support.
Gul Tuysuz and Liz Sly agree. Benny Morris sees a victory for stealth Islamists, whereas Walter Russell Mead believes the resignations were defeat for absolutist secularism and a victory for democracy:
In Turkey, a sometimes feisty and over the top Kemalist regime has given way to a sometimes feisty and over the top group of Islamists; in the Arab world a gaggle of failed secularist modernizers is being driven from power by waves of public resentment and frustration. Either way, the century in which French secularism was the dominant ideological force in the Middle East has now clearly come to an end. From Pakistan to Morocco the Muslim world has turned its back on the modernity of the 20th century. God only knows what comes next.
(Photo: Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (C) is flanked by Ground Forces Commander and acting Chief of Staff General Necdet Ozel (L) during a wreath-laying ceremony at the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, in Ankara on August 1, 2011. By AFP/Getty Images)