The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Friday issued detention warrants for 110 members of the Turkish Air Forces including six pilots over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
According to the report, 100 of the 110 officers who were accused of communicating with people from the Gülen movement have been detained in operations in 16 provinces.
The Turkish government has dismissed over 40,000 military personnel including gendarmerie and military cadets over alleged links to the movement since a failed coup attempt in July 2016, the tr724 new website reported on Aug. 4.
Immediately after the abortive putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
Director General of Public Security Selami Altınok on Dec. 12, 2017 said 22,987 police officers had been dismissed over alleged links to the Gülen movement.
“If it was a coup perpetrated by the Gülen movement and 40,000 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 Armed Forces into a political Islamist military in line with the wishes of President Erdoğan.
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 of last year 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.
President Erdoğan was recently given the authority to make changes in the top brass of the military with a presidential decree.
Erdoğan on July 15 appointed his son-in-law and Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak as a member of Turkey’s Supreme Military Council with a new presidential decree.
Under the decree, the Turkish General Staff will fall under the jurisdiction of the Defense Ministry.
On July 9 Erdoğan appointed Hulusi Akar, the chief of general staff, as defense minister.
Akar was under fire for his disputed role during the coup attempt in 2016.
The head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, last year said Turkey could not convince them that US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen was behind the failed coup in July.
Similarly, Devin Nunes, chairman of United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview with Fox News in March 2017 that he had not seen any evidence showing Gülen’s involvement in the putsch in Turkey.
In addition, a report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) revealed that the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge.