Recruitment duties for retired officers fuel debate over Erdoğan’s ‘secret army’

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Regulations that task retired officers and noncommissioned officers with recruiting cadets and military personnel went into effect on Saturday amid debates that this is a gift to SADAT A.S. International Defense Consulting, which has also been called President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s “secret army.”

According to new regulations based on state of emergency decree No: 678 issued on Nov. 22, 2016 by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, retired officers and noncommissioned officers are to be given the responsibilities of recruitment until Dec. 31, 2020.

“SADAT, which consists of retired military personnel who were called the AK militia and which was said to be responsible for civilian killings on July 15, now will officially be responsible for profiling and recruiting members. Moreover, they will be paid for these activities,” said an article published by the Aktif Haber news website on Saturday.

A column by Cumhuriyet’s Çiğdem Toker on SADAT was removed by court order on Dec. 6, 2016.

SADAT was directed by retired Brig. Gen. Adnan Tanrıverdi, who was recently appointed as an adviser to President Erdoğan. However, the company, which was established by Tanrıverdi and delivered asymmetrical warfare services according to information on its own website, removed the names of advisors from the company profile.

Toker wrote in her column on Dec. 6 that the company removed the list of a wide range of advisors, from Üsküdar University president and psychiatrist Nevzat Tarhan to professor of economics Mehmet Zelka.

Toker said she did not know if the change was due to Tanrıverdi’s appointment as an advisor to President Erdoğan.

According to columnist Abdullah Bozkurt, who calls SADAT Erdoğan’s private army, the man who Bozkurt says is still in charge, Tanrıverdi, is the point man who will reshape NATO’s largest army after the US by steering recruitment policy until 2020.

Tanrıverdi is known for his Islamist ideology and has counseled Erdoğan for years although in an unofficial capacity, Bozkurt wrote for Turkish Minute on Nov. 25.

Despite the fact that only 1,200 military members and civilians are being tried for playing a role in the failed coup attempt on July 15, about 23,000 have thus far been permanently dismissed from the Turkish Armed Forces by the government.

US Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO supreme allied commander in Europe, told reporters in Brussels on Dec. 7, 2016 that he has concerns about what happened to the officers who were working for NATO. Following the failed coup on July 15, as part of an unprecedented purge, Turkey had recalled half of its 300 officers assigned to NATO, a number of whom have reportedly applied for asylum in Europe.

In November NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said some members of the Turkish military who were posted to NATO had requested asylum.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) asked the government about the alleged role of SADAT in training Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) members, the Sol.org news website reported on Sept. 15, 2016.

CHP Party Assembly member Necati Yılmaz asked Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım whether or not there are relations as claimed between Al Nusra, Al Qaeda, ISIL and SADAT.

Yılmaz also asked whether the relations between Tanrıverdi and SADAT have continued since the retired general was appointed as an adviser to Erdoğan following a coup attempt on July 15.

“Have the Turkish Armed Forces, National Intelligence Organization [MİT] or the Police General Directorate done any joint work with SADAT? If yes, what is the content and goal of the joint work? Have these institutions bought any military or intelligence equipment by means of SADAT? If yes, what are they and from which budget were they paid?” asked Yılmaz.

“Is the claim true that a SADAT delegation met with the General Staff’s Planning and Principles head Lt. Gen. Salih Ulusoy on March 7, 2016? If yes, on what topics did the SADAT delegation speak with Ulusoy, who was detained and jailed following the July 15 coup attempt? Do the institutions have any information about the content of the meeting?”

SADAT was established by 23 retired officers and noncommissioned officers under the leadership of Tanrıverdi on Feb. 28, 2012.

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