As war hero, Premier and President, Ismet Inönü has occupied center stage in Turkish politics for more than half a century. He helped modern Turkey's founding father, Kemal Atatürk, win the country's battle for independence in 1923, and succeeded him as President in 1938. After 1950, when he was defeated for the presidency, Inönü continued to rule the Republican People's Party with an iron hand. Last week, at the age of 87, Turkey's elder statesman was finally forced into retirement.

The revolt against Inönü was led by his protégé and heir apparent, Bülent Ecevit. When Turkey's elected government was toppled last...

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