Turkish military responds to ‘abrasive’ criticisms
Hande Fırat - ANKARA
The Turkish Armed Forces has voiced its unease over “abrasive” criticisms and reports that have targeted Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar in recent days over a number of topics on the country’s agenda.
The criticisms and false reports are intended to overshadow the army’s success at a time when it is fighting against terror organizations, military sources told daily Hürriyet.
Among the reports and criticisms that created disturbance in the military were the lifting of the headscarf ban on female soldiers, Akar’s foreign visits with the president and the top brass’ visit to the Kardak Islets in the Aegean Sea.
Sources confirmed that the General Staff was not included in the process regarding recent amendments by the Defense Ministry to lift the ban on women soldiers wearing headscarves.
Military sources also described the criticisms of Akar’s foreign visits alongside President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as “intentional.” Akar accompanied Erdoğan on two foreign visits over the past six months, one to Pakistan and the other to countries in the Gulf. Sources said the official visits were “extremely natural and necessary,” as they were in the interests of the country.
Some reports also suggested that Akar personally visited U.S. Chief of Joint Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford at the İncirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana. The two soldiers met five times in Turkey over the past six months and all meeting places were picked by Akar, sources said.
Regarding criticisms of the top brass’ visit to the Kardak Islets in the Aegean Sea, the sources said it was thought-provoking to make it a domestic issue in a way that would “play into the hands of Greece,” while also calling negative reports on the visit “malevolent.”
Sources also stated that it was disturbing to discuss allegations that Akar had bought a plot of land for a villa with Mehmet Dişli, one of key figures in the July 2016 failed coup, even though the military has strongly rejected the claim.
The army sources said it was not beneficial for anyone to weaken the military with falsities and allegations during such difficult times.