The AKP has proposed, with the opposition’s backing, to abolish Article 35 of the Turkish Armed Services Law, which is the clause the military has relied on in the past in carrying out coups. This is unquestionably a good move for democracy in Turkey, as Article 35 has been used to justify blatantly undemocratic encroachments into Turkish civilian politics. Much as the way the Bush and Obama administrations have used the Congressional resolution passed after September 11 authorizing all necessary and appropriate force to go after al Qaida as cover for such far flung operations as warrantless surveillance and wiretapping, drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, and trying Guantanamo Bay detainees by military commissions rather than civilian courts, Article 35 has been used in ways outside the scope of protecting Turkey and its constitution. Civilian control of the military and the absence of unelected officials as the ultimate decision makers are both hallmarks of democratic rule, and the abolishment of Article 35 fits squarely into this context. Unlike other moves to hound the military by arresting officers and trying generals based on hearsay and forged evidence, this is one time where the AKP’s battle to bring the armed forces to heel should be cheered by everyone.

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