150. Intelligence Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency1

PA 80–10124

Short-Term Prospects for Turkey [handling restriction not declassified]


Turkey remains beset by political, economic, and internal security problems with which Prime Minister Demirel’s minority government seems scarcely able to cope. Spiraling political violence is evolving into mass unrest. If unchecked, it could turn into open insurrection or civil war. Lack of foreign exchange has caused the economy to grind to a halt, further fueling the political violence. [handling restriction not declassified]

Together with continued jockeying and partisanship by Turkey’s political leaders, these developments have impelled military leaders to become more involved in the political process. Their demand in early January that the squabbling politicians unite to solve Turkey’s problems nudged the government into taking stronger action on both violence and the economy and has evoked some grudging cooperation from other political parties.2 But interparty feuding has continued, and the onrush of events leaves the impression of a government still lacking control. In a followup statement, Turkey’s senior military leader warned that time is running out for a democratic solution to Turkey’s problems, and there are other indications that the military’s patience is wearing thin. [handling restriction not declassified]

About the only bright spots for Turkey and for Western interests in this bleak picture are the government’s economic stabilization program, which contains the kind of medicine that the economy needs, and Demirel’s pro-Western orientation, which has made Turkey more sensitive to the concerns of the West. Turkey’s friends and allies have [Page 454] reacted favorably to the government’s moves and are following up their 1979 rescue effort with an even bigger aid package this year. [handling restriction not declassified]

Whether Turkey’s continued slide can be arrested—or at least slowed—will depend on a number of factors. Though hard on the public, the stabilization measures will have to be implemented firmly and left in place long enough to be effective. Turkey will need to secure prompt and relatively easy access to foreign funds to buy oil and other necessities to get industry and agriculture moving again and to alleviate public hardship. Political violence and mass unrest will also have to be contained. These are demanding requirements for Turkey’s leaders and allies, and the Turkish military is likely to deem it necessary to play a more forceful role in solving the country’s mounting problems. [handling restriction not declassified]

[Omitted here is the body of the memorandum.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Directorate of Intelligence, Job 81T00208R, Box 2, Short Term Prospects for Turkey. Secret; [handling restriction not declassified]. A note on the first page reads in part: “This memorandum was prepared by [name not declassified] of the Western Europe Division, Office of Political Analysis. It has been coordinated with the Directorate of Operations, the Office of Economic Research, and the National Intelligence Officer for Western Europe. Information available through 9 March 1980 was used in the preparation of this memorandum.”
  2. This demand was reported in U.S. news reports as a “last warning” sent as a letter signed by General Kenan Evren to Turkish President Fahri Korutürk on January 2, who in turn gave copies to Ecevit and Demirel. The letter expressed the end of Evren’s patience for elements in Turkish society which had called for either a Communist revolution, a theocracy, or a fascist state. (Sam Cohen, “Turk Military Gives Politicians ‘Last Warning,’” The Christian Science Monitor, January 3, 1980, p. 3)