Army in disarray: Turkey’s military chiefs quit in row with govt

The ongoing trial of 42 coup plotters has been cited as the trigger.

Agencies July 30, 2011


Turkey’s army chief-of-staff and the entire military command have resigned in a row with the government over promotions for generals held in an alleged anti-government plot, media reported Friday.

General Isik Kosaner stepped down after several meetings in recent days with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ahead of an early August meeting of the army’s high command which decides on promotions for senior officers.

As well as Kosaner, the commanders of the army, air force and navy also quit, NTV and CNN Turk reported, which is unprecedented in Turkey. The resignations have plunged Nato’s second biggest military into disarray.

However, CNN Turk also quoted the prime minister’s office as saying the generals were not resigning but going into retirement. State-run Anatolian news agency reported Kosaner as resigning “as he saw it as necessary”.

The Supreme Military Council is due to hold a major meeting next week to discuss key appointments and President Abdullah Gul and Erdogan met Kosaner on Friday to discuss the matter.

Friction between the government and military has been fuelled by an ongoing trial targeting dozens of senior military officers accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

The authorities are holding 42 officers, including several generals, as part of an investigation into an alleged plot to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Several of those held are already retired. But senior officers in the army had been trying to get some of the serving officers promoted, despite their incarceration.

The government insisted that they be forced to retire.

Now members of the high command who stepped down on Friday have themselves asked for early retirement, the Anatolia news agency

Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th,  2011.


Shaikh Mohommad | 10 years ago | Reply

As far as I understand, there is no disarray in the Army. This is a purely a figment of imagination. If the Army is restored to its original position of maintaining peace and security in the country by obeying the Government of the day, the Army is strong and will be respected in the society. The army's role is not to be the boss but servant of the people by obeying the Government which is elected. I truly hope that all the armies in the Muslim countries follow the example of the Turkish Army.

Nikos Retsos | 10 years ago | Reply

It is about time that the Turkish generals go back to the barracks and let the elected officials govern the country. Turkey is modernizing fast, and in a modern country the army generals cannot anymore order the prime minister to "stand up, or to "sit down" as they used to. The time that the Turkish army overthrew from power and hang publicly prime ministers (Adnan Menderes in 1961), or the time that the army removed from power elected prime ministers on just a whim (Necmettin Erbakan on June 30, 1997) is over! After all, the European Union has made it clear that it will never admit Turkey as a member until the Turkish civilian government establish control over its armed forces. And that moment has apparently come.

But , apparently, that moment didn't come voluntarily. There was a military coup plot to overthrow Tayyip Erdogan, but failed, and the top brass are quitting now because not only they cannot "promote" the jailed plotters who are awaiting trial, but also they cannot anymore order the prime minister to drop the charges! And they opted to quit - rather than admit submission to the civilian government. Simply stated, army generals, who have had up to now a career and ego equal to the "Sultans" in the Ottoman Empire, just could not allow themselves to stay in their posts and behave like fetch boys of an elected government! But this is a good moment for Turkey because it proves to the international community that its elected officials are now leaders and not marionettes of the military establishment anymore! Nikos Retsos, retired professor

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