Turkey's ex-military chief Yaşar Büyükanıt dies at 79
Former Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt passed away early on Nov. 21 in Istanbul at the age of 79.
Büyükanıt’s cause of death just after 6 a.m. local time was “respiratory and coronary failure,” according to a statement by the hospital, where he was receiving treatment.
The former top soldier died two days after his wife’s passing. He was not able to attend her funeral due to his health condition.
Following a military ceremony, Büyükanıt will be buried in Karacaahmet Cemetery following the noon prayer and a funeral ceremony at Selimiye Mosque in Istanbul’s Üsküdar district on Nov. 23.
Born in 1940 in Istanbul, Büyükanıt graduated from Turkish Military Academy in 1961. He finished infantry school in 1963 and served as platoon and company commander in several units until 1970. After becoming a staff officer in 1972, he served as commandant in many quarters, including NATO ranks.
He was also appointed commander of Kuleli Command Post and regiment commander of the Presidential Guard.
Büyükanıt was promoted to brigadier generalship in 1988 and became a major general in 1992. Following his promotion to lieutenant general in 1996, he became a four-star general in 2000.
He served as the 25th chief of general staff of the Turkish Army between 2006 and 2008. He retired on Aug. 30, 2008.
During his tenure, he posted a controversial e-memorandum on April 27, 2007, on the website of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). The e-memorandum was the first episode in a chain of events that plunged Turkey into political turmoil and forced early elections.
The e-memorandum said the army was concerned Turkey’s secular system was in jeopardy and threatened to step in to protect it.
Hours later, the Turkish Parliament held an inconclusive, first-round vote to elect a new president.
At the time, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül was the sole candidate and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won comfortably. The parliament elected Gül in August 2008.
A week after the memorandum, Büyükanıt held a closed-door meeting with then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip, Erdoğan, now president, on May 4, 2007 at the historical Dolmabahçe Palace. The agenda of the meeting was secret, and its details remain unknown.