15,153 Turkish military personnel dismissed since failed coup: minister

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Turkish Military officials attend ceremony at Ataturk mausoleum to mark 94th Anniversary of Turkey's Victory Day in Ankara, Turkey on August 30, 2016.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, the country’s former chief of general staff, has said a total of 15,153 members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have been expelled from the military since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Akar’s remarks came in a speech he made to Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission on Thursday. The figure mentioned by Akar does not include cadets expelled from military academies and the personnel at the Gendarmerie General Command.

The Turkish government has dismissed over 40,000 military personnel including gendarmes and military cadets over alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup 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 TSK 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.

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