Turkey's top soldier slams opposition leader over Syria operation
ANKARATurkey’s top soldier has responded to harsh criticism from the nationalist opposition leader over the army’s evacuation of the Tomb of Süleyman Şah.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Behçeli strongly criticized Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel for abandoning Turkish soil inside Syria during his parliamentary group meeting Feb. 24 and questioned the top soldier’s loyalty to his country. “Mr. Özel Pasha, what is the homeland for you? Did you skip class when the issue of the homeland was being discussed at the Military Academy?” Bahçeli asked.
Bahçeli also lashed out at the government for the operation, describing it as “cowardly.” “Why is Turkey escaping from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL]?” Bahçeli asked, recalling that it marked the first time since 1922 that Turkish troops had withdrawn from Turkish soil.
In a written statement issued by his office, Özel responded to Bahçeli, describing his words as inappropriate concerning his personality and his ideas saying, “I am of the opinion that he does not have the right to question my conscience on my country, my nation and my flag as a person who has served the Turkish people and its army for the last 46 years.” Özel added that he does not want to engage into polemics with Bahçeli because of his political identity.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also slammed Bahçeli over his remarks on Özel: “You cannot now even be a piece of a nail of our Chief of General Staff.”