Παρασκευή, 29 Ιουλίου 2016

Paper Tiger: Why Turkish Army is Not as Strong as It Seems

Sputnik International
While the Turkish Army is known as the second largest force in NATO, Russian political analyst Evgeni Krutikov suggests that it resembles nothing so much as a "paper tiger." The analyst notes that in the wake of the attempted military coup the country's army could be considerably weakened.
Although Turkey's army is the second largest force in NATO with its 750,000-strong military contingent, it is not as powerful as it seems, Russian journalist and political analyst Evgeni Krutikov notes.

"The attempted coup [in Turkey], the war in Syria, the Karabakh turmoil and the Russian Su-24 tragedy have attracted a lot of interest to the Turkish army. This army is looking very impressive, but only at first sight: it has had more problems and failure than success," Krutikov writes in his article for online newspaper Vzglyad.

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The political analyst has called attention to the fact that the Turkish army was formed "chaotically," depending much on economic and political conditions.
Krutikov underscores that for a long period of time Ankara has regarded Greece as Turkey's major rival, regardless of the fact that both Turkey and Greece are NATO member states.
Given this, it is hardly surprising that a major part of Turkey's military force is concentrated on the country's western border. Whatever happens in Syria and Turkey's Kurdish regions, the traditional balance of forces remains intact, according to the journalist.
Taking a walk down the memory lane, Krutikov insists that during the Cold War the Turkish army had not boasted any major military success except its invasion of the island country of Cyprus in 1974.
Still, the Turkish army defeated the Cyrpriots mostly because of numerical superiority, according to the journalist. In general, there were a lot of flaws in Turkey's military operation: for instance, a maritime battle near Paphos where the Turkish air force attacked its own navy.
Interestingly enough, the Turkish Army underwent significant changes in the 1990s under Tansu Ciller, Turkey's first and only prime minister to date.

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Ciller re-equipped and transformed the Turkish Army into a modern fighting force capable of dealing with domestic challenges, including those posed by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). It is worth mentioning that it was Ciller who persuaded Washington to designate the PKK as a foreign terrorist organization.
At the same time, Tansu Ciller turned a blind eye to the emergence of radical nationalist parties in Turkey, most notably Grey Wolves, and had no scruples about using them as a tool in Turkey's confrontation with the Kurds and Armenians.
Despite the modernization initiated by Ciller there were still gaps in the Turkish Army's defense capabilities in the early 2000s. However, although then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to strengthen the nation's armed forces and equip the army with modern weapons, his vows often turned out to be a hot air.


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