Top general furious over coup claims, sends messages to gov't
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 1/25/2010 12:00:00 AM |
Turkey's top general rebuffs claims that the military had drafted a coup plan in 2003 that included bombing mosques to cause chaos in society. (UPDATED)
Repeating week-old military denials of a coup plot, Turkey's top general called the accusations "remorseless" in his first public statement.
Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ also complained of too much talk about the alleged coup plots and said, without directly referring to the government, “As the top commander of a very disturbed army, I have the right to ask who benefits most from this talk.”
“The patience of the Turkish Armed Forces has a limit,” Başbuğ said Monday in his speech to mark the occasion of the commemoration ceremony of Gen. Kazım Karabekir, one of the most important figures in Turkey’s Independence War.
Last week, daily Taraf published an alleged military plan called “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) that was purportedly the basis for a military coup to be staged in 2003, right after the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party, or AKP, came to power. The Istanbul chief prosecutor launched a probe into the plan after receiving the original documents from the newspaper.
Members of the government strongly criticized senior military officers over the alleged plan, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling on the army to accept the AKP and democracy.
“First of all, I want to underline one point: This [alleged] plan was [put together] seven years ago... many speculations were made about this plan. We are a serious institution. We are investigating all of them. But starting an investigation should not be interpreted as accepting the claims,” Başbuğ said.
“We are planning to give more information about the results of our investigation before the end of this week,” the general said.
[HH] Bombing house of Allah?
According to Başbuğ, the newspaper’s story included severe claims such as a plan to bomb mosques to provoke an uprising among the people that would create a suitable environment in which the army could stage a coup. “In the army, we train soldiers to shout ‘Allah Allah’ while attacking enemy forces. How could this army consider bombing the house of Allah?” the general said. “I curse those who make such claims. Our patience has a limit.”
The top general said the Turkish military is unique and said that comparing it with the armies of South American or Caucasus countries would be wrong.
[HH] Messages to government
In his lengthy speech, Başbuğ also gave some indirect messages to the government. “Being in the competent authority does not only provide you the right to complain,” the general said, referring to statements by government members complaining about alleged plots to topple the AKP. “Competent personalities have the responsibility to solve problems. ‘I just complain’ – no, there is no such thing.”
Noting that the military has been under an asymmetric attack for a long time, the top general said he had raised the issue with both Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül. “I have expressed our views, thoughts and suggestions on this issue. It’s my right to observe how our suggestions would be met,” he said.
According to Başbuğ, the struggle against such attacks cannot be prevented solely through the military’s own efforts. “There are things that the state should also take into account,” he said.
[HH] Coups are over
Reiterating the military’s commitment to democracy and the rule of law, the top general said it had “full loyalty to the principle that the single way of changing the government is democratic elections.”
Admitting that Turkey had experienced some military interventions since the early ’60s, Başbuğ said: “Our evaluation is that those days were left behind. We think that everyone has taken his or her own lessons from this process.”
What disturbs the military chief, however, is the fact that “coup talk” has dominated the country’s agenda for weeks. “I think I have the right to ask this question: Who benefits most from these growing coup talks?” he said. “It’s not useful for the country.”
[HH] 61 cases of leaked data
On the issue of the leakage of some top-secret documents from the military, Başbuğ said measures to stop such leaks have been intensified. “We have some structural problems [in this area],” he said. “We have to reinforce our system and we should fight against those who leak information outside.”
Informing the media that 61 cases had been launched in this regard, with nine of them being taken to military courts, the top general said one officer was found guilty and sentenced to three years. “Ten officers of different ranks were arrested. We are determined to find those who make mistakes.”
The leaked information is not always used immediately, according to the general. “They are waiting for the most suitable time,” he said. “This information is often used after a process of distortion.”