Turkey’s supreme military board meets amid growing regional unrest
The Supreme Military Council’s (YAŞ) three-day meetings are set to begin Aug. 4 under the leadership of PM Erdoğan with the participation of top military and civilian officialsTurkey’s top military board starts its annual three-day meetings Aug. 4 to review both military readiness and decide promotions in the army amid growing regional unrest that has put Turkish borders with Iraq and Syrian into jeopardy.
The Supreme Military Council’s (YAŞ) three-day meetings are set to begin Aug. 4 under the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with the participation of top military and civilian officials, including Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz and force commanders. YAŞ’s decisions will enter into force following President Abdullah Gül’s approval before being publicized Aug. 6.
The annual YAŞ meetings provide opportunity for a general review of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), its state of readiness against security threats, its logistical needs, structural and organizational reforms and future planning, as well as promotions of senior military officials and dismissals of military personnel. It also assesses regional developments and potential security risks Turkey may face.
This year’s YAŞ has significance for two respects. It coincides with the government’s determination to clear state institutions, especially the police, intelligence and judiciary, from pro-Gülen civil servants. There are rumors that the army is no exception and YAŞ will provide the opportunity to take potential measures to this end. Second, YAŞ comes after a score of on-duty military officials being released from prisons, as their demands for a re-trial were met by the court. The situation of a dozen of generals and admirals whose promotions were suspended in previous years will be discussed during the meeting.
There is no expectation of a change in the military echelons, as Özel and other force commanders’ mandate is continuing. Gendarmerie Commander Gen. Servet Yörük’s tenure is expected to be expanded for another year, which will give him the chance, along with Land Forces Commander Gen. Hulusi Akar, to replace Özel next year as the Chief of General Staff.
One of YAŞ’s important agendas will be reviewing the structural organization of the Air Forces Command. The Air Forces Command in Eskişehir and Diyarbakır are expected to be merged under “Combatant Air Forces Command” and will be ruled from Eskişehir. This new command will be run by a general to be appointed at the YAŞ meeting.
Regional security risks
The military and civilian members of YAŞ will also review regional security risks Turkey may face, especially in Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is increasing its rule. Clashes near the Turkish border have long been a disturbing matter for Turkey, as the army intensified its military presence in the region.
YAŞ’s decisions will be made public Aug. 6, following Gül’s approval. Erdoğan, who is running for presidency, will chair the YAŞ meetings for the last time if he is elected on Aug. 10.