Detention warrants issued for 53 more military personnel over alleged Gülen links

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(Photo: Murat Kaynak / Anadolu Agency)

The Sakarya, Konya and Kırıkkale chief public prosecutor’s offices issued detention warrants for 53 military personnel of various ranks in last 24 hours as part of a witch-hunt targeting people claimed to have links to the faith-based Gülen movement, Turkish media reported.

Detention warrants were issued for 31 military members as part of a Kırıkkale-based investigation that encompasses 17 provinces. Twenty-seven of 31 military personnel are active-duty members of the military.

Sixteen of 17 military personnel being sought including military personnel detained during operations in 11 provinces as part of a Sakarya-based investigation launched into the Gülen movement.

Five military members were detained over alleged Gülen movement links in Konya province.

The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government of mounting a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, but the movement strongly denies any involvement.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government dismissed a total of 24,977 military members including 150 generals, 4,630 officers, 2,167 noncommissioned officers, 1,210 specialized sergeants, 411 civil servants and workers, and 16,409 cadets following the failed coup attempt over their claimed links to the faith-based Gülen movement.

The government has up until now employed a total of 15,850 military personnel including 1,763 officers, 4,135 noncommissioned officers, 3,698 specialized sergeants, 6,162 contracted privates and 92 civil servants, the report said.

Turkish government has announced on Jan. 2 that it will enlist 42,938 new military personnel. 3,755 officers, 5,375 noncommissioned officers, 13,213 specialized sergeants and 20,595 contracted privates are planned to fill the ranks.

In February 2017, Defense Minister Fikri Işık said 30,000 new recruits would be enlisted in the Turkish military.

Official statements claim that a total of 8,651 military members including cadets and privates took part in the failed coup.

Director General of Public Security Selami Altınok on Dec. 12 said 22,987 police officers have been dismissed over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement.

“If it was a coup perpetrated by the Gülen movement and 25,000 military personnel and 22,987 police officers were dismissed for their connections to the movement, why did only 8,651 military members including cadets and privates participate in the coup?” is a question being asked by critics.

The government has been at the center of criticism for turning the Turkish forces into a political Islamist military in line with the wishes of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

A military officer candidate was reportedly asked questions about the Quran and the anti-government Gezi protests of 2013 during an interview in October 2017.

In June, an imam-hatip, or religious high school, in İzmir province promised its graduates preference in enrollment at military and police academies.

Some find the Turkish government’s efforts to Islamicize the Turkish army alarming and warn that NATO risks having a member army filled with extremists.

In February 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.

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