After staging the coup of May 27, 1960, the subversive generals conducted brainstorming sessions as to how they could assure individuals unsupportive of coups were not assigned to top army positions. They decided to design a system of promotion for military officials in which the civilian will had no authority to oversee their decisions. The subversive generals who supported this measure signed a secret protocol authorizing the army to decide who would be promoted or otherwise.
The majority of the subversive generals who were signatories to the protocol have since served as force commanders, and those who have not have been influential in the selection of force commanders.
In the late 1960s, the public voice became stronger, and the tenure of the subversive generals who has signed the protocol came to an end. In order to prevent the civilian will from exerting influence on the promotion of military officials, the generals decided to institutionalize the protocol.
However, it was not easy to pass a law allowing the establishment of such an institution, which effectively limits the authority of the civilian will. At this point, the military memorandum of 1971 came to the rescue, and YAŞ was established. An article introducing ambiguity was included in the law in order to ensure that the YAŞ, which was supposed to function as an advisory council, was the only authority to determine the promotion of military officials.
The army's dominance of the YAŞ's decision-making process in the promotion of military officials became an established practice, and after the Sept. 12 military coup the army started to consider it their legal right. Since that time, there has not been any amendment of the law regulating the activities of the YAŞ; a period of some 30 years.
The YAŞ has tended not to base promotions on the criteria of job success or loyal service. Retired military judge Faik Öztrak has stated that the 15 generals responsible for deciding promotions have awarded gains to those to whom they feel close. Öztrak has further noted that they appoint YAŞ members in this way as well.
Stressing that YAŞ is one of the main organs reinforcing the tutelage regime, Öztrak recalls that for a long time in Turkey presidents and prime ministers were expected to approve the YAŞ's decisions to promote or expel military personnel as a formality, despite having no input into the decision. It is only very recently that the president and prime minister have started to express dissenting views about decisions of the YAŞ.
As a clear indication of the fact that the country has been governed by the army as well as the elected government, the prime minister and the chief of General Staff have always sat together at the head of the table during YAŞ meetings. This has been the picture of the tutelage regime's domination over the country.
But last year this picture changed. The prime minister sat alone at the head of the table, as a symbol of civilian authority over the generals.
But was this nothing but a symbol, or was it a true picture, depicting the army's acceptance of the supremacy of the elected civilian government over the army?
The decisions taken at the YAŞ meeting that concluded on Friday, approved by President Abdullah Gül on Saturday, promised to provide an answer to this question. Would the YAŞ force all 40 generals and admirals currently under arrest as part of ongoing coup investigations into retirement, or find a middle way reaffirming the power of the tutelage regime?
News sources indicate that it is thanks to President Gül's determination to retire the 40 detained persons that the power of the tutelary regime was declared broken.
But the most important move will be the amendment of the YAŞ law. The same news sources have pointed out that the government plans to amend laws passed during coup periods, including to the YAŞ and Gendarmerie Laws.
Hope and tension intermingle in the parliamentary Constitutional Reconciliation Commission
It seems that hard times lie ahead for the parliamentary Constitutional Reconciliation Commission, which has started to work since returning from the interval.
The parties have previously declared that they will remain at the negotiation table until all issues are resolved. However, they have failed to set out a road map to ensure negotiations are maintained.
Even the commission members, who had been optimistic about potential progress, were disappointed with the tense atmosphere of a meeting of the commission on Aug. 1, which lasted for three hours.
The main question is: Will the parties search for new solutions concerning controversial articles on which the parties have so far failed to reach a consensus?
While the Republican People's Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) say that all problems can be solved with discussion to the point of consensus, only the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has offered an alternative route if consensus turns out to be impossible.
This suggests that hope and tension will intermingle throughout August.