İnce wants action against army commander over applause for Erdoğan
Muharrem İnce, the presidential nominee of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has continued his criticism of Second Army Command Commander Lt. Gen. Ismail Metin Temel, pledging to dismiss him and reorganize the military.
“If you love [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan so much, go and become his wingman when he retires on June 24 [election day], because I will strip you of your epaulettes,” İnce said at a rally in Istanbul’s Kağıthane district on June 3, referring to Temel’s applauding at an iftar (fast breaking) dinner in which Erdoğan blasted İnce.
“We will restore the military. A third of its members entered into service of [the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] FETÖ, other have entered into the service of Erdoğan. But now the military will enter into the service of the nation,” he added.
İnce had first criticized Temel at rallies on June 2, recalling discipline rules that dictate for the dismissal of any officers involved in political activity.
“Are you going to dismiss that general Erdoğan?” he said.
Temel, the commander of the “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s Afrin district that started on Jan. 20, is officially based in the eastern province of Malatya, where President Erdoğan held a rally and spoke at an iftar meal on May 31.
“You should not hand over a shop to an apprentice. You should not entrust Turkey to apprentice politicians,” Erdoğan said at the dinner, apparently referring to İnce. General Temel could be seen among those applauding in the crowd.
At least 150 generals and thousands of military personnel have been dismissed from the military after the July 2016 coup attempt for alleged links to the network led by Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based Islamic preacher who was once a close ally of the government but who is now widely believed to have masterminded the putsch.
Erdoğan defended Temel and accused İnce of “overstepping the mark.”
“The iftar dinner in Malatya was not a political party gathering, it was organized by local merchants. The Commander of the Second Army Command was there with the provincial officials. Muharrem İnce, the nation will never give you the opportunity to strip General Metin Temel’s epaulettes,” Erdoğan said at a rally in the Central Anatolian province of Konya on June 2.
“Their main problem was with the Afrin [operation] … Our gallant soldiers and brothers in the Free Syrian Army entered Afrin, exterminating 4,500 terrorists with General Metin Temel,” he added, referring to the “Operation Olive Branch” into Syria against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).