Former Chief of Staff says resigned due to pressures from gov’t
Umut Erdem – ANKARAFormer chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner has said the reason behind his 2011 resignation was to avoid pressure from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to make him appoint and retire army officers who were, at the time, suspected of planning to overthrow the government.
“Through Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) decisions, I was going to be forced to suspend all of them. This was not possible. If I had done it, I would have been part of this crime. We would have been complicit in the days that would have begun this calamity that we face today. I was not complicit in it, but I cannot say that I was successful in explaining it,” said Koşaner as he testified on Oct. 26 in front of parliament’s special commission to investigate the July 15 coup attempt.
Koşaner said he was reluctant to be part of an alleged plot that would see a number of military officers’ suspension from the army on charges that they were involved in an attempt to overthrow the AKP, an accusation which prompted lengthy prosecutions against soldiers, known today as the Ergenekon and “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) cases.
Referring to the cases, Koşaner said they were suspected of being a part of a plan to denigrate the Turkish Armed Forces and “suspend whoever they want from the army.”
“We know they were not guilty. But since the issues were carried to the judiciary, we did not have an opportunity to raise our voices because otherwise we would have been seen to be interfering against the judiciary,” said Koşaner.
He also added that they had received information from the National Intelligence Agency and police concerning the army members who were suspected of having links with the Gülenists and that they were duly trying to sever these people’s ties from the military.
“We were being informed that the organization tried to put students from their dorms into the military schools. The organization was trying to raise a generation for themselves. We were following it, but there was nothing to do. All we could do was inform the authorities about these happenings,” he said.
“But there were attempts to block our actions by wrongly interpreting the personnel dismissed through YAŞ and by making false propaganda that we were dismissing soldiers who pray and who do not drink alcohol,” said Koşaner, adding that their activities at YAŞ, which is responsible for deciding on promotions and demotions from the army, were gradually limited.
“In the last eight to nine years, the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] has come to a position in which it cannot protect itself. Therefore, these people cemented their presence, they became stronger, saw promotions and received high rankings. Taking high positions became possible with the cases that were based on false information,” said Koşaner.
He also said they had made the necessary warnings regarding the presence of Gülenists within the army but that nothing was done about it.