Rising global caste and tribalism

Related articles:

Should Amy Chua and Michael Shermer be added to the list of leaders for the Intellectual Dark Web? They discuss the rise in global tribalism (caste) and victimhood and how it is threatening the entire world. Amy Chua implies that the opposite to caste tribalism in global classical liberalism, which has not really caught on around the world. Most people who self identify with European enlightenment values unconsciously retain nationalism and many other forms of tribal (or caste or cultural) identity.

Amy Chua has written 5 books. Her first four were very well written. No doubt her fifth, which I haven’t read, is too.

What does everyone at Brown Pundits think is driving the dangerous surge in global identitarian caste tribalism? I think post modernism is the largest. Are there are other drivers too?

Avtar Singh Khalsa: Lion of Afghanistan

In this Thursday, June 7, 2018 photo, Avtar Singh Khalsa, a Sikh and longtime leader of the community, who will represent Afghanistan’s tiny Sikh and Hindu minority in the next parliament, holds a meeting in his office, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Few Afghans are as invested in the government’s quest for peace and stability as the dwindling Sikh and Hindu minorities, which have been decimated by decades of conflict.

The Lion of Afghanistan, Avtar Singh Khalsa, serves as a representative in the Afghan Parliament. This Afghan hero fought for ten years in the ANA (Afghan National Army) and is reaching out with love and heart to the Taliban to negotiate peace; but willing to fight if Taliban refuses: “I sacrifice myself for those of my brothers who have been through all kinds of pain and suffering,” he said. “I don’t care if I lose my whole family and I get killed for this cause. I will struggle until I get their rights.”

In this Thursday, June 7, 2018 photo, Avtar Singh Khalsa, a Sikh and longtime leader of the community, who will represent Afghanistan’s tiny Sikh and Hindu minority in the next parliament, studies with his grandchildren at home, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Few Afghans are as invested in the government’s quest for peace and stability as the dwindling Sikh and Hindu minorities, which have been decimated by decades of conflict.

In this Thursday, June 7, 2018 photo, Avtar Singh Khalsa, a longtime leader of the Sikh community, who will represent Afghanistan’s tiny Sikh and Hindu minority in the next parliament, prays, inside a colorfully decorated gurdwara, a place of worship for Sikhs, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Few Afghans are as invested in the government’s quest for peace and stability as the dwindling Sikh and Hindu minorities, which have been decimated by decades of conflict.

In this May 30, 2018, photo, Avtar Singh Khalsa, a Sikh and longtime leader of the community, who will represent Afghanistan’s tiny Sikh and Hindu minority in the next parliament, gives an interview to the Associated Press, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Few Afghans are as invested in the government’s quest for peace and stability as the dwindling Sikh and Hindu minorities, which have been decimated by decades of conflict.

In this Thursday, June 7, 2018 photo, Avtar Singh Khalsa, a Sikh and longtime leader of the community, who will represent Afghanistan’s tiny Sikh and Hindu minority in the next parliament, stands in front of a display of photographs at home, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Few Afghans are as invested in the government’s quest for peace and stability as the dwindling Sikh and Hindu minorities, which have been decimated by decades of conflict.

“The 52-year-old father of four, originally from the eastern Paktia province, has lived most of his life in Kabul . . . “I don’t only want to serve my Sikh and Hindu brothers. I have to be able to serve all the Afghan people, no matter which ethnicity or group they belong to. Our services must reach everyone,””

In this Thursday, June 7, 2018 photo, Avtar Singh Khalsa, a longtime leader of the Sikh community, who will represent Afghanistan’s tiny Sikh and Hindu minority in the next parliament, leaves a gurdwara, a place of worship for Sikhs, after praying, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Few Afghans are as invested in the government’s quest for peace and stability as the dwindling Sikh and Hindu minorities, which have been decimated by decades of conflict.

Please visit Avtar Singh Khalsa’s Gurudwara in Kabul on your next visit!

Continue reading “Avtar Singh Khalsa: Lion of Afghanistan”

American Caste

Our featured post modernist scholar Daria Roithmayr appears to believes that America has four castes: caucasions, latinos, blacks, asians; and emphasizes the importance of caste (which she calls “race”) over class in understanding how the world works and changing societal socio-economic outcomes. And our featured hero, leader of the intellectual dark web, global respected elder, and leading global intellectual Glenn Loury believes in emphasizing class over caste. I am 200% with my hero Glenn Loury on emphasizing class over caste.

Discussions at Brown Pundits seem to be overrun with discussions on caste that I don’t fully understand. The parallels of caste in the muslim world (various different sects of Islam), Arya societies (Iran, Hindu Jain Buddhist influenced societies) and America are uncannily similar. Perhaps a discussion of American caste might help lower extreme passions and facilitate a more productive discussion of caste in muslim societies and Arya influenced societies.

Start watching 35 minutes in if interested.

Daria Roithmayr believes that due to a series of historical events humans are not born with the same social capital. This inequality in social capital is inherited across generations and she believes drives differences in average socio-economic outcomes between America’s four castes. The way she believes social capital in inherited across generations is:

  1. Inter-generational wealth transfer from parents to children [I think this is easily overcome]
  2. Rich kids go to better public schools funded by high property tax revenues [I don’t think school funding matters as much as she does. Expensive versus cheaper public schools matter far less than the power of “good company”, or the effect of kids being surrounded by other amazing kids.]
  3. Social networks [this or the power of “good company” is even more important and valuable than she thinks]
  4. Leadership of or influence on social networks [I don’t think I understand this point]

Daria Roithmayr is right that social capital advantage is inherited across generations. My belief is the way social capital transfers across generations is through affecting four types of privilege:

  1. Physical health [Sharira Siddhi in Sanskrit]
  2. Mental health [Chitta Shuddhi in Sanskrit]
  3. Intelligence [Buddhi in Sanskrit] {Intelligence is affected by physical and mental health as well as by meditation in eastern philosophy}
  4. Good company [This is the least important of the four and primarily works via the influence good company has on physical and mental health and intelligence. There is an eastern saying: “tell me your company and I will tell you who you are”. Social networks or what Glenn Loury calls “relations over transactions” is part of “good company”.]

The other issues Daria is discussing has a far smaller effect on inter-generational social capital transfer than these four.

Drinking (alcohol) During Ramadan

The Washington Post has an article by Khalid Diab about the complications that arise around the issue of obtaining alcohol during Ramadan. Excerpts are posted later. As Shahab Ahmed points out in his magnum opus (What is Islam), drinking alcohol is prohibited in Islam, but it is also an established feature of Islamicate culture; i.e. not only is it regularly used (by a minority), it is celebrated in poems and songs, there are rituals associated with its use, everyone knows someone who drinks and drinkers have their own (albeit not always comfortable) place in society. In some countries (Saudi Arabia, Iran) it is strictly prohibited and users can expect serious penalties if caught, but even in those countries a great deal of regular communal drinking does go on. A few more countries (like Pakistan) have prohibition, but with more exceptions than exist in Iran and Saudi Arabia (non-Muslims and foreigners can buy alcohol, some high end hotels have bars, and so on). In several other countries (Egypt, Tunisia, Indonesia, etc) alcohol is widely available and can be purchased in supermarkets and even in small roadside kiosks (what would be called a Khoka in Pakistan). But in all these countries, there is a visible change during Ramadan: many regular drinkers voluntarily give up alcohol for the month and those who continue to drink may go deeper underground than usual. I have friends who cannot go to sleep without one (or several) nightcaps, but who will not touch  drop during Ramadan. They invariably get drunk on Eid.

Some excerpts from Khalid Diab’s article follow:

Although alcohol is considered haram (prohibited or sinful) by the majority of Muslims, a significant minority drinks, and those who do often outdrink their Western counterparts. Among drinkers, Chad and a number of other Muslim-majority countries top the global ranking for alcohol consumption.

Have a Murree with your curry.. Beer from Pakistan

Continue reading “Drinking (alcohol) During Ramadan”

Welcome back Mahathir Mohamad, Hero of Asia!

Welcome back Mahathir Mohamad, our favorite 92 year old PM of Malaysia! Malaysia was one of the centers of the great Arya civilization for thousands of years; now enriched by Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese Buddhism, Islam, and expats the world over. One of the most diverse and immigration friendly countries in the world. One of the most pro business, pro capitalist, pro globalization, pro neo-liberal, pro enlightenment values, and pro moderate Islam countries in the world. A country that fought against the full might of the Soviet Union, China and the global communist block and won. A shining city on a hill. A self assured, self confident Asian Tiger without inferiority complex. One of last great bastions resisting the global post modernist wave.

Continue reading “Welcome back Mahathir Mohamad, Hero of Asia!”

India as the hydra against Islam

In some versions of the legend of the Hydra, every time you cut off one of the heads of the monster two more grow in its place.

I have been thinking about why and how India remained predominantly non-Muslim despite most of the subcontinent being under Muslim ruling for 500 years (dating from 1250 to 1750 approximately). The contrast here would be most stark with Iran and Turan. While the zone of the Islamic Empire between Mesopotamia and the Maghreb was dominated by a Christian populace which spoke an Afro-Asiatic language, Iran and Turan retained their language and their cultural distinctiveness, as evidenced in the nationalism clear in the Shahnameh.

There was a comment on this weblog that implied India was unique because of violent resistance to Islamicization. This is patently false. To give a concrete example, the region of Tabaristan in northern Iran was dominated by warlords and dynasties which adhered to the Zoroastrian region until the 9th century, 200 years after the Arab defeat of the Sassanians. Despite the inroads of Islam in the 9th century, after more thorough integration into the Abbassid Caliphate, Tabaristan was still throwing up Zoroastrian anti-Muslim warlords into the 10th century.

But most attempts to infer the religious demographics of Iran, which are to a great extent guesswork, suggest that it was in the 10th century the region became majority Muslim. One indication of this that this is so is that this period correlates with a more muscular and resurgent Iranian high culture and reemergence of political non-Arab political power. As Zoroastrianism was no longer seen as a threat to Islam, Persian cultural identity could reassert itself without a non-Islamic connotation (there is in the 10th century a shift away from ostentatiously Arab names by Persian Muslim elites).

Basically, it seems that it took about 300 years for Iran to become majority Muslim. I’ve seen similar numbers for Egypt and the Maghreb, though in the latter region indigenous Christianity became extinct by the medieval period.

There are two related issues that I want to suggest for South Asia: scale and complexity. Though the Indian subcontinent is geographically smaller than the Arab Caliphates as their height on paper, the reality is much of the Near  East and North Africa are empty of people. Islamic rule really consisted of a string of cities and fortifications interlaced over broad swaths of the territory occupied by pastoralists, as well as a few regions of dense cultivation.

Iran, Turkey, and the Arab world consist of between 400 and 500 million people. The Indian subcontinent has 1.7 billion people. The population in the past may have been different, but I think it gives one a rough sense of the differences in magnitude over the long-term.

Second, the social complexity of South Asia is astounding. I say this as a geneticist: the differences between different castes in the same region are hard to believe. Though there is a great deal of ethno-religious diversity in the Middle East, they are not surprising. Arabs engage in a consanguinity. Ethno-religious minorities such as Copts or Assyrians have less cosmopolitan ancestry than their Muslim neighbors. This is all to be expected.

In contrast, any analysis of ethnic “Telugus” has to take into account local structure because it is so extreme. Dalits are different from middle castes are different from Brahmins. Some of this is due to genetic drift, but much of it is due to continental-scale differences in genetic admixture.

The genetic differences tell us something us deep about the nature of South Asian social relations. Defection to Islam occurred on the individual scale, but generally, quantity could only be had by mass conversions. Even when groups of people of the same community are of different religions it was probably through mass conversion of particular subsegments.

Which brings me to Bengalis. The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier was written many years ago, and I read it long before I ever knew much about the genetics of South Asians. In it the author explains that the dominance of Islam on the eastern march of Bengal was due to the fact that it was a frontier society that emerged during the period of Islamic rule. Meanwhile, western Bengal was a culture which was in a stationary state.

The ability of Islam to penetrate into the Bengali-speaking peasantry was due to its fluid and unordered character. In contrast in western Bengal, a more traditional South Asiab society with well-delineated caste boundaries had already crystallized by the time of the Muslim conquest.

So here’s the thing that genetics adds: the topology of genetic variation of Bangladeshis is totally different than what you see in other South Asians. There’s very little structure. Basically aside from a few half-Brahmins and a small community of Dalits, the 1000 Genomes sample from Bangladesh shows none of the genetic variation partitioned by the community you see in most Indian samples. Or, that you see in the Indian Telugus, Gujuratis and Pakistani Punjabis (the Tamils from Sri Lanka are somewhat less structured, but still have more than the Bangladeshis).

To me, this confirms the thesis of The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier. As a frontier society, eastern Bengal was mixed in a way where the structure socially and genetically that was the norm in most of South Asia by the time the Muslims arrived simply wasn’t present. Without the powerful collective substructure, Islam was able to swallow up the rural society in toto. Perhaps the best analogy might be to Indian communities in Trinidad, where caste has mostly disappeared, and Christianity has made extensive inroads.

So why didn’t India become Muslim? What is this “India” of which you speak?

Note: I moderate comments, please don’t stupid spam me.

Review: The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam

Allama Iqbal

In the late 1920s the Indian Islamist and poet Mohammed Iqbal delivered six lectures at Madras (to the Madras Muslim Association), Hyderabad and Aligarh, in which he set out his vision of the reconstruction of religious thought in Islam. Apparently Iqbal himself intended to write a second, larger book to be called “The Reconstruction of Legal Thought in Islam”, to which these lectures formed a sort of philosophical prelude.  That second book was never written, but the lectures were combined with a seventh lecture (“is religion possible”) that was delivered to the Aristotelian society in England, and published as a book “The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam”.  By the time the book was published (first in Lahore in 1930, by Kapur Art Press, then with the seventh lecture included, by Oxford in 1934), Iqbal had been knighted for his services to the crown and was already a famous poet (in both Urdu and Persian) and was being honored by the Islamicate elite of India as their philosopher and thinker par excellence. Since this is the only work of philosophy that he ever composed after his PhD thesis, his status as a philosopher is heavily dependent on this slim volume.

The book is primarily targeted at contemporary Muslims, who were keenly aware of their weakness vis-a-vis Europe, as well as of their historic role as a “worthy opponent” that at some point in the past held the upper hand against Western Christian competitors. Iqbal’s primary mission here is not some open ended search for philosophical truth, it is the revival of Muslim greatness, the basic fact of which is taken for granted and is an element of faith. In his own words:

“I have tried to meet, even though partially, this urgent demand by attempting to reconstruct Muslim religious philosophy with due regard to the philosophical traditions of Islam and the more recent developments in the various domains of human knowledge.”

Like many other religiously minded thinkers of the day, he was also quite taken with modern physics and believed “the present moment is quite favorable for such an undertaking. Classical Physics has learned to criticize its own foundations. As a result of this criticism the kind of materialism, which it originally necessitated, is rapidly disappearing; and the day is not far off when Religion and Science may discover hitherto unsuspected mutual harmonies.”

In terms of his education and training, Iqbal was firmly in the Western philosophical tradition (tending mostly towards its German, orientalist, idealist and romantic currents) and like other Islamist modernizers, he took it for granted that the “Muslim world” has to come to terms with modern knowledge, but this was to be done from within the Islamic tradition and while maintaining the distinctive character of Muslim society. His grandfather may have been a Kashmiri Hindu (his son claims the conversion happened 400 years earlier) and it has been claimed that there were branches of the family that remained Hindu, but either because of this relatively recent conversion, or because of his mother’s strong Muslim faith, his commitment to Muslim separatism and supremacism was strong and unbending. He was willing to admire other traditions (including the learning of the Brahmins, about whom he has interesting things to say elsewhere) and learn from them, but they are always “other” traditions, about this there is never any doubt.

Iqbal’s (supposed) Hindu cousins
Mom and dad

The books is interesting, especially if you are philosophically inclined towards the “spiritual” and the mystical; on the other hand, if you are somewhere on the “new atheist” spectrum then the book can only be of historical interest. Even those who are willing to entertain metaphysical speculation should be aware that this is not a systematic philosophical text. All the central claims of the book are simply asserted (there is rarely any detailed argument showing why they are correct) and the historical views are very early 20th century, with the ghosts of Spengler and countless lesser writers hovering in the background. Entire cultures and historical epochs are summed up in ex-cathedra pronouncements of the sort that were popular in that age but seem to have fallen out of favor since then. For example  “the cultures of Asia, and in fact, of the whole ancient world failed because they approached reality exclusively from within and moved from within outwards. This procedure gave them theory without power, and on mere theory no durable civilization can be based”.

Always hovering in the background is his (not so original) view that history is progressive and something is gradually unfolding and developing as we move from ancient cultures (India, Greece, never China) to Islam to modern Europe. In this great drama, the “spirit of Islam” is essentially anti-classical and empiricist and it is Islam that created the foundations of modern science by introducing this attitude into humanity (“European culture, on its intellectual side, is only a further development of some of the most important phases of the culture of Islam”). This basically Hegelian view of history was all the rage in the circles that Allama Iqbal frequented (its echoes survive to this day), and if this is still your cup of tea, jump right in, Iqbal will not disappoint you. Continue reading “Review: The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam”

Homoeroticism, Blasphemy, and Classical Muslim Society

The following stray thoughts on Islamicate homo-eroticism were penned by Irfan Muzammil on Twitter and I am posting them here for the sake of generating more discussion. My own “off the top of my head” comments are at the end in Italics.

A thread on homoeroticism, blasphemy, and classical Muslim society
By Irfan Muzammil 

In my class on Arabic literature today, we read an anecdote about one of the earliest and greatest of Arab poets, Abu Nuwas. Abu Nuwas lived during the height of Islamic civilization in the early Abbasid period, and rose to such esteem that he taught the sons of caliph Harun al-Rasheed. One of those sons al-Amin became the next caliph and Abu Nawas’ greatest patron. What’s most interesting is that his poetry is filled with eroticism of both homo and hetero kind, and with love for wine and for young boys. The anecdote we read was written by Abu Faraj, who was himself one of the descendants of Umayyad caliphs, and wrote one of the classics of Arab literature, Kitab al-Aghani (Book of Songs), a 20 volume collection of anecdotes on Arabs poets, singers, and musicians.

One of his anecdotes on Abu Nuwas, which we read in class, is about Abu Nuwas seducing a young boy but the conversation between Abu Nuwas and the boy is entirely in Quranic verses. I was frankly shocked, and told my professor that I’d be killed or jailed for even  posting this, much less writing it out in a book or teaching it in a class. But according to the professor, who is an Arab himself and an expert in Arabic and Islamic studies, this anecdote has often been quoted even in religious texts as a great example of Arab literature.  And it was only in 2001 that the Egyptian Ministry of Culture burned 6000 copies of Abu Nuwas’ books. The amount of homo-eroticism in both classical Persian and Arabic poetry is just staggering.

By the way, yesterday in my class on early Islamicate societies, we saw the naked women painted on the palaces of Umayyad caliphs. I wonder if the classical Muslim civilization was far more liberal than the modern one -unless you were a slave, or a non-elite woman, or a young boy or girl. But it does trash all those silly theories of Iqbal and Sayyid Qutb etc. about the downfall of Muslim civilization because of its moral lassitude. We were far more liberal, at least in terms of sexual mores and wine drinking, when we were at our mightiest, and our downfall began as our society became more severe and intolerant.

(I would be cautious about interpreting this in terms of liberal (then) vs intolerant (now). Times were different all round. And the elites frequently lived lives that did not concern themselves with the moral standards regarded as ideal for commoners or spouted by priests and theologians. Augustus promoted strict Roman virtue without feeling too closely bound by its strictures in his own private life. The Catholic church had a slew of libertine popes without any discernible change in the morality the church was trying to teach their followers. Every Ummayad caliph except Umar Bin Abdul Aziz was supposedly an alcoholic. As were most of the Delhi Sultans and Mughal Kings, but the religious texts in their times all had the same prohibitions they have today. And last but not the least, classical Islam developed within the womb of the Arab empire, it was not present fully formed when that empire rose to power. There is much more interesting stuff to be said about this, but perhaps another day.. meanwhile, I expect commentators will add value)

Eclipse of the Turkish Armed Forces

From Dr Hamid Hussain

Eclipse of Turkish Armed Forces

Hamid Hussain

“In Turkey, we have marriage of Islam and democracy.  The child of this marriage is secularism.  This child gets sick from time to time.  The Turkish armed forces are the doctor which saves the child.  Depending on how sick the child is, we administer the necessary medicine to make sure the child recuperates”.   General Cevik Bir; former Deputy Chief of General Staff of Turkish army

Turkish Armed Forces (known by the Turkish initials TSK – Turk Silahli Kuvvetleri) have gone through a dramatic change in the last two years.  In July 2016, a faction of TSK tried and failed to bring back TSK on the center stage of Turkey.  This failed coup attempt was the result of rapidly deteriorating relations between ruling Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish initials AKP – Adalat ve Kalkinma Partisi) and TSK spanning over fifteen years.

TSK assigned itself the role of the guardian of the state and Kemalist tradition.  TSK had a key role in making decisions about national security, economy and foreign relations. Supreme Military Council (known by its Turkish initials YAS – Yuksek Askari Shura) was the instrument used for military’s dominance.  Civilian bureaucracy and judiciary dominated by secular elite were junior partners of TSK

In 1997, TSK forced removal of Islamist Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan what was later called ‘post-modern coup’.  In 2000, AKP came to power and its leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan gradually increased his power while avoiding direct conflict with powerful army. There was now conflict between two power centers.   AKP didn’t have qualified cadres to control state bureaucracy. Erdogan made an alliance with cleric Fethullah Gulen.  Gulen’s organization Hizmet has been focused on excellence in education for three decades.  Gulenist sympathizers joined state bureaucracy especially police and judiciary.  Repeated electoral successes of AKP with control of legislature combined with penetration of state structure by Gulenist sympathizers strengthened the civilian hand.  They now felt confident to confront TSK and snatch back some powers.

Gulenist sympathizers in police and judiciary embarked on an ambitious plan of state restructuring by clipping the wings of TSK.  Several former and later serving officers were accused of plotting coups.  Hundreds of officers were charged, arrested and prosecuted in two notorious alleged conspiracies; Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer). Later, hundreds of officers including high ranking officers were convicted and sentenced to long prison sentences.  TSK was gradually losing its internal cohesion due to emergence of various factions.  Senior officers lost the confidence of junior officers for failing to protect officer corps from real and imagined conspiracies propagated by pro AKP and pro Gulenist media houses and large-scale arrests of officers.

A group of second and third tier TSK officers decided to strike before Erdogan further clipped TSK wings in upcoming August 2016 YAS meeting.  Elements from major army formations, special forces, army headquarters, air force and helicopter pilots and naval officers were involved in the coup attempt.  TSK senior brass was not in the loop.   Headquarter of coup plotters was at Akinci air force base.

On 15 July afternoon, a helicopter pilot Osman Karaca went to MIT headquarters to warn about impending coup.  MIT chief Hakan Fidan informed head of military police and later army chief General Hulusi Akar.  General Akar issued orders banning military flights over Turkish air space and prohibited movement of armored vehicles.  This upset the original coup launch time of 3 am July 16.  Coup plotters moved the time to 8:30 pm July 15.  This proved to be a fatal error as streets were bustling and Erdogan was able to rally his supporters.  Major General Mehmet Disli of strategic planning branch at General headquarters went to Akar’s office informing him that coup was in motion and asking him to take charge.  When angry Akar refused, he was arrested and flown to Akinci air base.

Coup plotters bombed Turkish parliament building and police headquarters.  Erdogan made the courageous move of flying back to Istanbul and asking his supporters to come out in streets.  Protestors confronted soldiers on the streets.  Coup attempt failed in few hours and government forces quickly restored order.  Erdogan on landing at Istanbul airport declared that ‘if we accept that everything happens for a reason, then this uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be the reason to cleanse our army’.  He truly cleansed the armed forces by sacking and arresting thousands of officers and Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs).  Almost half of flag rank officers of Turkish army, air force and navy were sacked.

Deeply suspicious of the army, Erdogan closed all military colleges and academies and transferred several military institutions including hospitals and business interests of TSK to civilian control.  To counter military’s coercive power, he has strengthened police special forces, paramilitary forces and civilian intelligence.  In Syria, during recent operations against Syrian Kurds, army was used only initially especially tanks but later police special forces and Gendarmerie were deployed on Syrian territory. Erdogan has also expanded the role of private security contractors to fill the security gap. He hired retired Brigadier Adnan Tanriverdi as his military advisor.  Adnan was retired in 1997 on suspicion of having Islamist leanings.  In 2012, he started a private security firm SADAT.

In the aftermath of the coup, Erdogan had two choices. A transparent trial of accused officers and strict punishments or using failed coup attempt to silence all opposition.  Unfortunately, he embarked on the later course with large scale sacking and arrest of not only army personnel but civilian bureaucracy, police and judiciary.  In addition, all opposition including Gulenist sympathizers and Kurds are on the receiving end.  Hundreds of academics were sacked and many journalists have been arrested and large media houses taken over by the government.  This has divided Turkey right in the middle.  Half of Turkey hates and other half loves Erdogan.  This is a recipe for long term instability.  In this environment, it is inevitable that this polarization will affect TSK.  It will take more than a decade to restructure TSK on professional grounds while at the same time keep it under civilian control.

 This article is based on author’s talk at The Democracy Forum in London on 19 March 2018.  

Hamid Hussain

coeusconsultant@optonline.net

 Defence Journal, May 2018