Turkish gov’t dismissed 22,920 military personnel after July 15

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visits the Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of the late founder of the Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, during a ceremony marking the 93rd Anniversary of Republic Day in Ankara on October 29, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık stated that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government dismissed a total of 22,920 military personnel after a coup attempt on July 15, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.

In response to a question by Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Muharrem İnce, Işık said 6,511 officers and 16,409 cadets were dismissed from the military. The cadets included 4,090 from military high schools, 6,140 from noncommissioned officers colleges and 6,179 from university-level military schools.

The government is at the center of criticism over dismissing 22,920 military personnel due to their ties with the Gülen movement, despite the fact that the Turkish military stated on July 27 that only 8,651 military members including cadets and conscripts took part in the July 15 coup attempt.

“if it was a coup perpetrated by the Gülen movement and 22,920 military personnel were dismissed for their connections to the movement as Erdoğan and the government assert, why did only 8,651 military members participate in the coup?” is a question being asked by critics.

Defense Minister Işık said last month that 30,000 new people would be enlisted in the military.

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

SADAT was directed by retired Brig. Gen. Adnan Tanrıverdi, who was appointed as an adviser to President Erdoğan. Tanrıverdi is known for his Islamist ideology and has counseled Erdoğan for years although in an unofficial capacity, columnist Abdullah Bozkurt wrote for Turkish Minute on Nov. 25.

A report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) revealed that although President Erdoğan and the Turkish government immediately put the blame for the July 15 failed coup on the faith-based Gülen movement, the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge, according to a report by The Times newspaper on Jan. 17.

The Aldrimer.no website reported on Jan. 25 that NATO sources believe the coup was staged by the president of Turkey himself.

Speaking to vocaleurope.com, a former Turkish officer who served at NATO headquarters in Brussels but was sacked and recalled to Turkey as part of an investigation into the failed coup on July 15 claims that the putsch was clumsily executed and never intended to bring down the government, but rather served as a vehicle for President Erdoğan to eliminate opponents and the ultranationalists to take a prominent role in the military and impose their “Eurasian” agenda on the country.

During a panel discussion organized by the Bipartisan Policy Center on Feb. 1, Henri Barkey, director of the Middle East Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center, said that many generals purged by the Turkish government are pro-NATO and pro-American, saying this could create a shift in Turkey-NATO relations.

“It happened essentially very quickly, which means that it was a pre-planned purge of the military, and maybe also explains why there was an attempted coup by some elements,” Barkey said while speaking about a purge conducted by AKP government.

“After the coup 149 generals and admirals were kicked out of the Turkish military. This is 46 percent of all the Turkish General Staff. We know that those 149 were not involved in the coup, because had they been involved in the coup, there would have been more than six or ten thousand soldiers out in the streets.”

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