YUSUF KANLI > ‘Scream’ of a prime minister

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No one would think Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would one day realize the impact on the security of the country of the extended detention of top generals of the country within the framework of the alleged Ergenekon, Sledgehammer and İzmir spying cases and such or simply the “domestication of the military” program his government has been implementing since 2007.

Complaining that not only were top commanders unable to help their comrades in arms get back their freedoms under the laws and regulations, they were “compelled to help out in the rounding up of those still out of prisons,” Naval Fleet Cmdr. Adm. Nusret Güner called it quits last week. Indeed he apparently resigned back in November but was “requested for a fresh analysis in January” and as nothing has changed over the past few months went ahead with his decision.

Adm. Güner was the last full admiral in the Navy who could take over from the retiring Navy Cmdr. Murat Bilgel. The Navy now needs two full admirals, there is only one vice admiral (Bülent Bostanoğlu) eligible for promotion. Will a vice admiral be appointed as fleet commander and the promoted vice-admiral as the new Navy commander? Or will Adm. Bilgel’s term in office be extended by one more year with some forced interpretation of the regulations?

An almost identical but less serious situation exists in the Air Force as well. In the August promotion Supreme Military Council only one full general, the current Air Force Cmndr. Mehmet Erten, will retire. Like the Navy, where most admirals are behind the bars, many air force generals are under detention and only Lt. Gen. Abidin Ünal is eligible to be promoted to full general. In the Land Forces the situation is not that critical, prosecutors may still have the luxury of rounding up quite a lot of generals of all ranks. Joking aside, almost one in three generals or admirals of the country has so far tasted the conditions of prisons. Out of around active 300 generals and admirals, some 80 are in prison (some 40 were sent to retirement last year). Besides, hundreds of officers and retired generals and officers are behind bars.

The “scream” of the prime minister that extended detention of soldiers was adversely affecting the morale of the military at a time when the nation needed most their dedication in the fight against separatist terrorism and must be heard with this bitter background of the situation of the Turkish military.

The most popular joke in the country for some time is that if after compulsory retirement of 40 admirals and generals at last year’s Supreme Military Council (because of the regulation that those detained cannot be promoted or have their waiting period at rank extended) and if this domestication of the military pogrom continues, it should not be surprise to see some sergeants filling general seats. That joke, of course not to that extent, is becoming a reality and even the prime minister has realized what great damage his government has done to the defense of the country.

This year the commanders of the Land, Navy, Air and Gendarmerie forces will have to be replaced. How? The “scream” of the prime minister becomes all the more meaningful; he has no idea how to solve this puzzle as well without taking out at least some generals and admirals out of prisons.


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Notice on comments

mara mcglothin

1/28/2013 4:40:33 PM

Yeah MICHAEL I surely do love the irony. I am saddened to think that it took RTE to finally realize he might need a strong navy/miliatry. Spot on AGNES He shot himself in the foot this time and the gangrene is moving up his leg at this point.

Rimon Tree

1/28/2013 2:13:38 PM

Though I agree that Turkey was weakening herself by all those detainments, I still think that the "scream" of esteemed PM is pathetic and pretends Erdogan trying to polish up his image and hide his radical ideas within the Western World.

Engin Atik

1/28/2013 5:44:19 AM

There are many eligible graduates of "Academy of Economics and Commerce" to fill the position of Admiralship in the Navy. If they can be successful Prime Ministers or Chief justices why not Admirals. Steering a ship should be just as easy as riding a horse. No?

Coskan U

1/28/2013 4:04:29 AM

Who would have thought the PM had such a great sense of humor. Wonder what the real reason behind, or the timing of his recent comments is besides the obvious that the next batch of senior officers will acknowledge him as the “10-star General”

dogan kemal ileri

1/28/2013 2:55:02 AM

I am not bothered the old guard of the military have been discarded for one reason or another as their achievement levels for the past few decades have a lot to be desired. Where is the slimmed down professional army Turkiye needs now? Where are all the proper advanced weapons and fighter planes as well as a much required missile defence capability. Do we have a rapid reaction force in our armed services? New blood and fresh thinking is urgently needed from our military so I welcome change.

Falk Bernard

1/28/2013 2:11:07 AM

I think this has to do with the influence Gulen/his movement had on Erdogan. With their support the attacked the army in arresting generals and such. Past month Erdogan had distanced himself from the movement because of wiretapping devices were found in his environment. Now he realized he was dealing with unreliable companions. We’ll see more of this.

Agnes Smith

1/28/2013 1:19:22 AM

Shot himself in the foot! We have been waiting for this!

Michael Wray

1/28/2013 12:56:40 AM

You gotta love the irony.
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