Turkey’s top brass remains in posts after post-coup attempt reshuffle
AA photoTurkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and the country’s land, air and naval commanders have remained in their posts, presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın announced after a five-hour Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting on July 28 that came after a major shift in the military following a failed coup attempt on July 15 by elements within the country’s military.
A total of 16 generals and admirals were promoted to a higher rank while some 99 colonels became admirals or generals. The tenures of 20 generals and admirals were prolonged for another year during the meeting under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.
In a symbol of the military’s waning power, the meeting was held at the Çankaya Palace of the Turkish premier in Ankara and not, as is customary, at military headquarters.
Some 47 generals and admirals were retired due to a lack of available positions after completing their waiting periods to gain promotion to higher ranks while one general will retire on Sept. 1 due to age limits.
The top brass of the army, however, will remain on duty as Land Force Commander Gen. Salih Zeki Çolak, Air Force Commander Gen. Abidin Ünal, Naval Forces Commander Adm. Bülent Bostanoğlu and Fleet Commander Veysel Kösele retained their positions.
Çolak, Ünal and Kösele were all taken hostage by the coup plotters during the July 15 failed takeover.
The commander of the 1st Army, Gen. Ümit Dündar, was appointed deputy chief of General Staff while Gen. Musa Avsever was appointed as 1st Army commander.
For the first time in the country’s history, a petty official, who started out as a non-commissioned officer, became a general with Col. Cemal Balıkçı’s advance.
Meanwhile, a number of soldiers who were acquitted in a military espionage case in İzmir were also promoted. Rear Adm. Ercüment Tatlıoğlu became vice admiral while Infantry Staff Col. Barbaros Kasar and Artillery Staff Colonels Bahtiyar Ersay and Sırrı Yılmaz became brigadier generals.
Akar will remain in his position during an upcoming “transition process,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on July 22.
The National Intelligence Agency (MİT) and the General Staff could be tied to the Presidency, Erdoğan reportedly said, Turkish broadcaster CNN Türk cited parliamentary sources as saying July 28.
Erdoğan reportedly made the remarks during a visit by Parliamentary Speaker İsmail Kahraman and the members of the Bureau of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to the Presidential Palace in Ankara.
MİT and the Turkish General Staff are currently under the Prime Ministry’s control.
A total of 1,684 soldiers, including 149 generals and admirals, were discharged from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) over alleged links to the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) after the coup attempt, only one day before the YAŞ meeting.
The annual YAŞ meetings help shape the future of the military with appointments, promotions and reshuffles.
The recent discharge decision was part of new regulations published late on July 27 in the Official Gazette and came as part of Turkey’s three-month state of emergency which allows the government to issue such decrees.
Those dismissed included arrested former Chief of Air Staff Gen. Akın Öztürk, who was allegedly among the organizers of the coup attempt, and 2nd Army Commander Gen. Adem Huduti, along with lieutenant generals Yıldırım Güvenç, İlhan Talu, Salim Ulusoy, and Major Generals Mehmet Dişli and Kubilay Selçuk.
Some 87 generals, 726 military officers and 256 non-commissioned officers were discharged from the Land Forces, according to the decree.
Some 32 admirals, 59 military officials and 63 non-commissioned officers were discharged from the naval forces while 30 generals, 314 military officers and 117 non-commissioned officers were discharged from the Air Force.
According to the decree, the regulation discharging all the personnel in question will come into effect on July 29.
The number of dismissed generals adds up to more than 42 percent of all 358 generals in the Turkish military.
Some 30 generals are still in custody.
The General Staff announced on July 27 that a total of 8,651 soldiers had taken part in the failed coup attempt of July 15, making up 1.5 percent of the military’s total personnel.
Describing the coup attempt as an “attempt by FETÖ terrorists in military uniforms,” the General Staff said 1,676 of the soldiers were rank and files while 1,214 were military students.
It also added that 35 planes, including 24 fighter jets, 37 helicopters, 74 tanks, 246 armored vehicles and three ships were used in the coup attempt, while 3,992 light weapons were used by soldiers.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Efkan Ala said on July 29 that a total of 18,044 people were detained over the failed takeover.
With the July 27 decree, the Gendarmerie and Coast Guard commands were also brought under the control of the Interior Ministry.