When Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the Turkish Republic in 1923, he separated religion and state anointing Turkey's military as guardians of the secular constitution.
Since 1960 the military has staged three coups, each time justifying its actions by claiming that secularism was under threat. However in 2002, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) were elected to power in a landslide victory. They describe themselves as Muslim democrats, put Turkey on the road to membership of the European Union, and embarked on a series of democratic reforms that some in the military bitterly opposed. In 2007 news broke of a new military conspiracy to overthrow the government. Hundreds were arrested and charged with belonging to an underground network known as Ergenekon. A secret state-within-a-state, it had allegedly interfered in Turkey's political life for decades. The trials that followed, which are still ongoing to this day, were hailed by the authorities as taking Turkey a step closer to full democracy. But the old secular elite called the proceedings a sham, designed to fatally undermine the military's once central role in the nation's affairs.
What might be the final twist in this complicated saga came in January last year when hundreds more current and former military officers were arrested for yet another plot known as Sledgehammer - its alleged mastermind was a former army chief-of-staff, General Cetin Dogan. With General Dogan's trial now underway, Julia Rooke investigates the latest developments for People & Power.
This episode of People & Power can be seen from Wednesday, January 12, at the follwing times GMT: Wednesday: 2230; Thursday: 0930; Friday: 0330; Saturday: 1630; Sunday: 2230; Monday: 0930; Tuesday: 0330; Wednesday: 1630.
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