Friday, July 29, 2011

Turkey's Military Leaders Resign En Masse In Disagreement With Erdogan Government

Turkey's army chief-of-staff and the entire military command have resigned in a major disagreement with the Erdogan government.

General Isik Kosaner stepped down after several meetings in recent days with Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, along the commanders of the army, air force and navy. This is unprecedented in Turkey.

Officially, the disagreement was over the promotion of 42 high ranking active duty officers the AKP is holding on trumped up charges of trying to overthrow Erdogan's AKP government.

Back in February of this year, Erdogan's government held what amounted to show trials of high ranking military officers and political opponents on charges that they attempted to overthrow Erdogan's Islamist government in 2003. In what amounted to a purge of the largely secular military, 133 current and former Turkish military officers were arrested and jailed without bail, and the government issued warrants for the immediate arrests of 29 other officers.

More than 400 people - including academics, journalists, politicians and soldiers - are on trial on separate charges of plotting to bring down the government. That case is based on a conspiracy by an alleged gang of secular nationalists called "Ergenekon."

General Kosaner and the other military leaders insisted that the jailed officers receive their normal promotions, since they haven't been tried or convicted of anything yet. The Erdogan government insisted that they be forced to retire.

Another point of conflict had to do with military officers to Erdogan government wanted promoted to higher rank during next week's military council meeting. As you canimagine, the officers in question were politically connected and hand picked by the AKP.

This is a much bigger deal than it appears. Turkey's entire military leadership resigning en masse is a direct challenge to Erdogan, and it will end one of two ways. Either the military will become much more Islamist and compliant or the military is getting ready to assume it's constitutional role of safeguarding Turkey's secular democracy...which means a coup could be in the making.

(more discussion by the always knowledgeable Commander Dyer at the Optimistic Conservative here.)

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