Turkish officials plan radical shake-up of army top brass

Turkish officials plan radical shake-up of army top brass
Turkey's top military commanders met on Thursday to replace almost half of their generals in a radical shake-up after 15 July coup attempt.
3 min read
28 July, 2016
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim is to meet with the Supreme Military Council [Anadolu]

Turkey's top military commanders met on Thursday to replace almost half of their generals in a radical shake-up of the armed forces.

It comes after nearly half of the military's contingent was dismissed this week as part of a widening crackdown following a failed coup.

The hastily convened meeting came after the government ordered the discharge of 149 generals for complicity in the putsch bid.

In a symbol of the military's waning power, the meeting was held at the Cankaya Palace of the Turkish premier in Ankara and not, as is customary, at military headquarters.

It is expected to last just one day, as opposed to up to three days in the past, a Turkish official said.

The meeting of the Supreme Military Council [YAS] began in Ankara at around 8:30am GMT, bringing together Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and the army, navy and air force commanders, along with other top figures untarnished by the coup.

In a possible move to pre-empt its decisions, two senior Turkish generals resigned just before the meeting, the private Dogan news agency reported.

Land Forces Chief of Staff General Ihsan Uyar and Training and Doctrine Command head General Kamil Basoglu stepped down, Dogan said.

Both are "Orgeneral," Turkey's highest rank for a general.

Turkey's wide crackdown

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Eighty-seven land army generals, 30 air force generals, and 32 admirals were dishonourably discharged over their complicity, a Turkish official said, confirming a government decree.

In addition, 1,099 officers and 436 junior officers received a dishonourable discharge, according to the decree.

On Thursday, Ankara announced that 88 workers in the foreign ministry had been sacked.

Turkish authorities also ordered the closure of a total of 131 newspapers, TV channels and other media outlets for complicity in the putsch bid.

It is the latest clamping down on press freedoms, following the government's earlier takeover of opposition newspaper Zaman daily, which has since towed a pro-government line.

The 15 July rebellion, which saw plotters bomb Ankara with war planes and wreak havoc on the streets of Istanbul with tanks in a bid to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sparked a backlash affecting all aspects of Turkish life.

So far almost 16,000 people have been detained in a crackdown.

'Gulen to flee US'

The US-based Muslim cleric accused of orchestrating Turkey's failed coup could flee the US, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Thursday.

Fethullah Gulen, may flee to Australia, Mexico, Canada, South Africa or Egypt, Bozdag told broadcaster Haberturk TV.

Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania and runs a global network of schools and foundations in the US, denied any knowledge of the coup attempt.

Agencies contributed to this report.