Huge elimination after the coup attempt
The government issued two decrees on the evening of July 27 due to the state of emergency declared after the military coup attempt of July 15.
One of them was about the closure of a total of 132 media outlets for having financial links with the Fethullah Gülen network, which has been denounced by the government and prosecutors as the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization” (FETÖ) after the Islamist ideologue who lives in the United States. Almost all of those outlets were already seized by the government earlier this year in March and trustees had been appointed to run them as outlets in parallel with the line of President Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government of Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım. They had already been made defunct, but their official closure came after the coup attempt, perhaps as a demonstration of determination. Earlier in the day, detention warrants were issued against 47 former executives and writers of Zaman newspaper, the former flagship of the pro-Gülen media. Also, a number of journalists and writers who were not a part of the Zaman group were detained for alleged links with the group.
The second decree by the government regarded the dismissal of a total of 1,684 officers and petit-officers from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), 149 of them being generals or admirals. The totals equal roughly 40 percent of the command structure in the Navy and Air Force because of their involvement in the coup attempt.
That was only a preemptive move before the key meeting yesterday, July 28, of the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) chaired by Yıldırım where retirements and promotions were set to be decided. The YAŞ meeting was said to be one of the main reasons for the coup attempt with the widespread assumption that Gülenists who had infiltrated the ranks of the military staged the coup amid worries that they would be removed from the system. The aim of the preemptive move was to clear the field for more radical moves and not think about what to do with those who are already under probation.
The move was supported by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the social democratic main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), during a live interview on CNN Türk on July 28. But Kılıçdaroğlu also says that the detentions, arrests, suspensions and dismissals from the office should not turn into a “witch hunt.” The CHP has been criticizing AK Parti governments for at least a decade for allowing the Gülenists, or Fethullahists in Turkish jargon, to take key positions in the state apparatus, from the judiciary to the police, from the military to intelligence and education.
Since July 15, the number of public servants sacked from their offices have exceeded 66,000 as of yesterday and more than 42,000 of them are from the Education Ministry, with most of them being teachers and principals. Nearly 9,000 of them are from the Interior Ministry which commands the police force and the gendarmerie. More than 3,000 of them are from the social security system where all the personal records of citizens are kept. More than 2,000 judges and prosecutors have already been suspended, dismissed or arrested with the suspicion of undermining the government on behalf of a Gülenist takeover of the Turkish state.
The government seems very determined to clear Gülen’s followers from the public system with this huge elimination campaign.
The YAŞ decisions showed that the change in the military system will not be limited to the changing of the names in the upper brass. It is possible that the government could issue other decress for the restructuring of the military within the three-month duration of the state of emergency.