451. National Intelligence Estimate1

NIE 29–2–71

[A prefatory note reads: “This estimate examines prospects for Turkey against the background of deep-seated social and economic issues which are profoundly affecting Turkish domestic and to a lesser extent foreign affairs. In assessing political matters it gives emphasis to developments between now and 1973 when parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held.”]



Turkeyʼs intractable social and economic problems threaten the multiparty political system erected over the past 50 years. The Justice [Page 1105] Party, which represents the political alliance between the rising business and professional groups on the one hand and the more modern peasants on the other, wins elections. It cannot rule, however, without the acquiescence of the military elite and the bureaucratic reformers represented by the Republican Peoples Party (RPP), which governed Turkey until 1950. While the RPP leadership remains committed to democratic procedures, the military establishment takes seriously its role as protector of the regime against internal as well as external enemies and has intervened twice in the decades since the Second World War to bring down the government. The basic conflict of interest between these forces is not susceptible to early or easy solution.
Prime Minister Erim, though brought to office by military intervention, is no mere puppet of the generals. He is pledged to restore law and order and to carry out a wide ranging program of reform—involving principally land reform and strengthening the executive power of government. He is likely to accomplish very little of his ambitious program, however, and political tension will probably continue high.
The military establishment will almost certainly remain the final arbiter of Turkeyʼs politics for many years to come. But if civilian politicians cooperate to pass some reform measures, the present military leadership is unlikely to seize direct power. If a military government is established, however, it is likely to be long-lasting. The senior generals would probably continue many of the Erim governmentʼs policies; a regime dominated by lower ranking officers would be more nationalistic in outlook and less predictable in direction.
Turkey is now engrossed in a debate on its place in the world. Many Turks feel that they have long been taken for granted by the US. Thanks to martial law the loudest critics of the US have been silenced and the climate for US activities in Turkey has somewhat improved under the Erim regime. [6 lines not declassified]
Measures to control opium are also linked to US assistance; and the Turks have expectations for substantial and continuing aid that are likely to be very hard for the US to meet. If US economic aid declines and indications appear that opium growers in other countries are increasing production, pressures inside Turkey to continue production would rise significantly. There is potential here for a clash of interests with the US on an issue which touches Turkish national sensibilities.

[Omitted here is the body of the estimate.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, NIC Files, Job 79–R1012A, NIEs and SNIEs. Secret. The CIA and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State and Defense and the National Security Agency participated in the preparation of this estimate. The Director of Central Intelligence submitted it with the concurrence of all members of the USIB, except the representatives of FBI and AEC who abstained on the grounds it was outside their jurisdiction. A note on the cover sheet indicates that this estimate superseded NIE 29.2–70, Document 428.