Turkish army refutes speculations over top soldier’s leave
DHA PhotoThe Turkish army and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have refuted claims that Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel left his office because of a disagreement with the government over military intervention in Syria, underlining he will be back to his job after recovering from a medical procedure.
“Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel underwent a successful medical operation and his health is stable. Land Forces Commander Gen. Hulusi Akar will serve as acting Chief of General Staff during the sick leave of Chief of General Staff Necdet Özel,” the Turkish Armed Forces said in a written statement May 11. Özel is set to retire due to age limitations on Aug. 30 if the government does not opt to extend his mandate for another year.
The army’s statement came after news broke that Özel had received a 15-day sick leave for medical treatment of a health problem. Özel’s temporary leave caused wide spread speculations suggesting that the top soldier had left his position because of a deep disagreement with the government over a military operation into Syria. The rumors on the issue came right after a senior opposition party official argued the government was planning to enter Syria “within days.”
“Speculative news that has been published in some media institutions does not reflect the truth,” the army said in the statement.
Davutoğlu said Özel’s leave is only about his health and that claims he will ask to retire do not reflect reality, in an interview with daily Yeni Şafak. “I talked to him. His health and moral is stable. He won’t retire,” Davutoğlu said.
Describing his dialogue with Özel as very healthy, Davutoğlu said, “Our Chief of General Staff is our commander who is very sensitive to obeying democratic rules and improving the professional capability of the Turkish Armed Forces within the democratic system.”
“He has never been in a position that would cause the place of the Turkish Armed Forces in the democratic system to be brought into question. All pieces have fallen into place in these four years [of Özel’s mandate],” he added.