BY INVITATION ONLY: Turkish Civil-Military Relations and the Fight against Terrorism

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The Centre for Turkey Studies (CEFTUS) in partnership with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) is pleased to host prominent Turkish security expert, Dr Metin Gurcan. 

Metin Gurcan’s talk aims to present a model for ‘damage control’ in the Turkish security sphere following last year’s attempted coup d’etat. He will look at Turkish civil-military relations, Turkey’s security architecture and security policies, and Turkey’s fight against the PKK, extreme Salafi/Jihadist networks and members of the Gulen movement in the post-coup and post-referendum context.

In the aftermath of last year’s coup, Turkey faces a dilemma as to whether to monopolise state control of the military or democratise it. Monopolisation would take power away from the military elites and put it in the hands of the elected executive presidency, allowing for strict civilian control of the military. Democratisation on the other hand would see power spread between the elected president, the elected government, and parliamentary and civil society actors, such as academia, think tanks, and the media so as to create a more effective military oversight and monitoring system.  

Gurcan will analyse the possible implications of a hasty and large-scale civilianisation process on the nature of Turkish civil-military relations. He will then explore the extent to which the Turkish military’s institutional identity has evolved from a ‘monolithic whole’ into a ‘polylithic formation’, comprised of many separate micro-identities, reflecting the differing worldviews and attitudes towards change of various factions within the military elite. This transition from ‘monolithic’ to ‘polylithic’ is driven by the weakening power of the Chief of General Staff and seems to be the prime risk factor within the military. Gurcan will talk about the threats faced by Turkey’s military today and talk about ways of mitigating and managing these.

Speaker Biographies

Dr Metin Gurcan is a columnist for the Washington-based Al Monitor News Agency writing about security related issues and is a regular contributor to the Turkish T24 News Agency.

From 2010 to 2014, Dr Gurcan worked as an analyst officer at the Turkish General Staff. After resigning from the military in 2015, Dr Gurcan obtained his PhD from the Department of Political Science of Bilkent University in 2016 with a dissertation entitled ‘Opening the Blackbox: The Transformation of the Turkish Military’. In 2014, Dr Gurcan worked as a visiting research fellow at Oxford University’s Changing Character of War (CCW) Program, and conducted research about the changing nature of conflict and counterinsurgency (COIN) efforts in tribal and Muslim settings. Dr Gurcan has been published extensively in Turkish and foreign academic journals such as Turkish Studies, Small Wars Journal and Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict, on issues such as perceptions on the changing nature of warfare, terrorism, Turkish civil-military relations, military history and Turkish foreign policy.

Dr Francesco F. Milan is a Teaching Fellow at the Defence Studies Department, King’s College London/Joint Services Command and Staff College. His doctoral dissertation (War Studies, King’s College London) focused on the evolution of Turkish civil-military relations. Dr Milan has written extensively on Turkey’s security issues, and has recently published “Turkey: What Hides Behind a Failed Coup Attempt” on The RUSI Journal.

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