Turkey appoints former defense minister to same post amid Syria conflict
ANKARATurkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has announced former Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül will make a return to his post, replacing outgoing Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, who has been elected as the new parliament speaker.
“I have presented Mr. Vecdi Gönül’s name to our President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] by taking the ongoing process into consideration,” Davutoğlu told reporters on July 3, in an apparent reference to Ankara’s growing concerns over developments in neighboring Syria.
“At a critical time, we prefer somebody whose knowledge and experience we trust and who worked with the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] in the past,” Davutoğlu said, noting he expected procedures related to the appointment to be concluded, followed by the official approval of Erdoğan released later in the day.
“This office cannot be run by a temporary assignment or by an acting minister,” he underlined.
Ankara has been alarmed by Syrian Kurds’ advances against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), while also being irked by Western reluctance to tackle Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The prospect of a Turkish military intervention in Syria has been raised in recent days.
Gönül served as defense minister in three consecutive governments formed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) beginning in 2002 when the party was first elected to power.
In the June 2015 election, Gönül was not nominated for parliament because the AKP has an internal three-term limit for its deputies.
Following the 2011 election, Erdoğan, then the prime minister, had appointed Yılmaz to replace Gönül as defense minister.