Major sweep of Turkish top brass by the government
Speculation had grown theat the government did not approve Chief of Gendarmerie Forces General Bekir Kalyoncu's appointment as Land Forces Commander and become the next in line to replace the current Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel in 2015. AA photoThe Turkish government made its mark in the process to choose the new force commanders of the army, who were announced over the weekend following this year’s Supreme Military Council (YAŞ).
All four force commanders were changed according to the decisions announced after President Abdullah Gül’s approval on Aug. 3, including Chief of Gendarmerie Forces Gen. Bekir Kalyoncu, who was expected to be appointed to replace the current chief of the Land Forces according to customary practice. He was instead forced to retire.
The YAŞ appointments shaping the commandment echelon of the army assigned Deputy Chief of the Turkish General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar as the new Land Forces commander, replacing Gen. Hayri Kıvrıkoğlu, who was consigned to retirement.
The post is considered to be key as the Land Forces commander is customarily the next in line to replace the current Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, who will be keeping his post until August 2015.
However, that tradition was not followed at the 2011 YAŞ, in which then-Chief of Gendarmerie Forces Gen. Özel was appointed the chief of General Staff following the resignations of Land Forces, Air Force and Navy commanders at the time.
Air Forces Commander Gen. Mehmet Erten was replaced by Gen. Akın Öztürk, Naval Forces Commander Adm. Murat Bilgel was replaced by Adm. Bülent Bostanoğlu and Kalyoncu was replaced by Gen. Servet Yörük as the new chief of the Gendarmerie.
Bilgel was also sent into retirement, along with Kıvrıkoğlu and Kalyoncu.
The decision puts Akar in prime position to replace Özel, whose maximum four years as the top commander will end in 2015. The appointment of Akar also broke another tradition in military appointments as he was given the post although he had never served as an army commander.
Speculation had grown during the three-day YAŞ meetings that Kalyoncu had run afoul of the government, as his name was mentioned in testimonies by defendants in the Ergenekon coup plot case as a figure involved in operations aiming to organize a coup against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. The same reports also said Kalyoncu’s open criticism of the government was another reason he was not appointed.
Meanwhile, Erten, who has completed his maximum term of two years as a force commander but still has a year until retirement, was appointed as a member of YAŞ.
The decision has been interpreted behind the scenes as a “polite way of telling him to resign,” daily Hürriyet reported. Erten is expected to ask for his retirement within six months, according to sources.