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Turkey in Crisis: Chief of General Staff & Top Military Submit Resignation

An earthquake of XXL magnitude has hit Turkey with the Chiefs of military staffs having submitted their resignation. The head of the Turkish armed forces General Isik Kosaner along with the heads of the Land (Erdal Ceylanoğlu), Naval (Uğur Yiğit) and Air Forces (Hasan Aksay) have resigned,  apparently plunging NATO’s second biggest military into disarray. Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner and the commanders of the air, navy and land forces have all resigned from their positions amid controversy over the appointment of generals.

The reason for the generals’ resignations was not immediately clear, but tensions between the secularist military and the government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan have run high in recent years.

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 Turkish lira weakened sharply on the news to 1.6964 against the dollar from an interbank close of 1.6805 on Friday.

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 fueled by an ongoing trial targeting dozens of senior military officers accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

The chiefs of staff  resignations come, as tension over the arrest of dozens of officers accused of plotting to overthrow the Islamic-rooted government reached a climax.

The resignation of so many top commanders for the first time ever in Turkey signals a deep rift with the government, which has been confident in confronting a military that once held sway over Turkish political life. The arrests of high-ranking military officers would once have been unimaginable.

The resignations of Turkey’s top general, Isik Kosaner, along with the country’s navy, army and air force commanders, came hours after a court charged 22 suspects, including several generals and officers, with carrying out an Internet campaign to undermine the government. The commanders asked to be retired as they quit, NTV television said.

The state-run Anatolia news agency also reported on the resignations. NTV and Anatolia didn’t name their sources.

Kosaner had met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul earlier Friday to discuss several key appointments during next week’s high military council meeting.

Seventeen generals and admirals, who are in line for promotion, have been jailed along with nearly 200 officers on charges of plotting to overthrow the government in 2003 in a case called the “Sledgehammer.”

More than 400 people — including academics, journalists, politicians and soldiers — also 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.”

Critics say the Sledgehammer and Ergenekon cases are built on flimsy evidence and designed to silence Erdogan’s pro-secular opponents. The government denies the cases are politically motivated and says it is just trying to work to improve democracy.

Sources: Reuters, AFP. Read also: Today’s Zaman

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  1. What does this mean for Greece? Seems like a pretty disruptive thing for the region

    • keeptalkinggreece

      this is a pure internal dispute of Turkey, we have to see the persons who will rpelace them. On the other hand, foreign affiars is a state policy in Turkey and so far, their dogma book has not been changed.