Detention warrants issued for 36 former Turkish Air Forces officers over alleged Gülen links

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The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday issued detention warrants for 36 members of the Turkish Air Forces who were purged following the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

According to the report, police launched operations across 18 provinces to detain former officers including 9 pilots who are claimed to be on the line with members of the Gülen movement.

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.

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