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Splitting gendarmerie from Turkish army: reform or bad timing?

The Turkish public is divided over the government’s decision to attach the Gendarmerie Command to the Ministry of Interior.
Turkish gendarme soldiers prepare to change shifts with their colleagues standing in front of protesters waiting outside Silivri prison, some 70 km (43.5 miles) west of Istanbul, during the trial of a shadowy-right wing group in the heavily-guarded prison, October 23, 2008. The trial of Ergenekon, a shadowy right-wing group, resumed in Turkey on Thursday on charges of trying to topple Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government.  REUTERS/Osman Orsal (TURKEY) - RTX9U0U
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When you enter any gendarmerie post, Turkey’s paramilitary rural police force in 81 provinces and 957 towns, the first slogan on the wall is always Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s words: “The Turkish gendarmerie is an army of law.” The gendarmerie, with its 175-year history, has a current strength of about 190,000 (31 generals; 28,000 officers and noncommissioned officers; 40,000 professional specialist sergeants; 3,500 civilian workers/clerks and 117,000 conscripts). It is responsible for 80% of Turkey’s territory. With its commando brigades, air elements, special forces battalions and van-based corps, which is Turkey’s key unit for dealing with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Gendarmerie Command is a fully-fledged military machine.

But Ataturk’s words in every gendarmerie post may be removed in November, after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that the Gendarmerie Command would be detached from the Chief of Staff of the Turkish armed forces and attached to the Ministry of Interior. After anticipated parliamentary action, the era of a gendarmerie, which is currently commanded by a four-star general, will be history. All personnel action will be handled by a civilian organization that will probably be led by a civilian of governor rank.

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