Turkey's secular society, enshrined in the constitution and fiercely protected by the military, is one of the things that defines the country.

But tension between Turkey's government and military has been brewing for years. And the apparent war of words between the military and the ruling AK Party got worse when Turkey's four top military commanders submitted their retirement letters.

It looms large over all of Turkish life: the Turkish military, the guardians of the secular constitution. But what happens when Turkey's four top military men all want out? Is a showdown between government and army edging closer? And how does it impact the military's political role? Is the military's power dwindling?

Inside Story, with presenter Kamahl Santamaria, discusses Turkey's political power struggle with guests: Mustafa Akyol, the author of Islam Without Extremes; Henri Barkey, a professor of International Relations at Leigh University; and Haldun Solmaztürk, a retired brigadier-general.

This episode of Inside Story aired from Saturday, July 30, 2011.

Source: Al Jazeera