News / Europe

Court Convictions Deal Blow to Turkey's Military

Mehmet Haberal, center, a surgeon and founder of an Ankara university, is accused of being part of an alleged ultra-nationalist and pro-secular gang called Ergenekon, Aug. 5, 2013.
Mehmet Haberal, center, a surgeon and founder of an Ankara university, is accused of being part of an alleged ultra-nationalist and pro-secular gang called Ergenekon, Aug. 5, 2013.
Dorian Jones
The jailing of hundreds of senior Turkish army officers, including a former chief of staff, is the latest blow to NATO's second largest army. Turkey's military is facing increasing numbers of resignations, and questions are growing over the impact of the trial on its effectiveness at a time of regional instability.
 
On Monday, a Turkish court sentenced 19 people, including the country's former military chief and other retired military officers, to life in prison for allegedly conspiring to overthrow the government. Dozens of others also received long prison sentences.
 
The convictions marked the biggest crackdown on Turkey's secular military since it established the republic in 1923.
 
Metehan Demir is a former Turkish fighter pilot and now a columnist for the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. He warns the prosecutions are now having a debilitating impact on Turkish armed forces at a critical time.
 
"There are some positions in Turkey where you need a four-star-general-like force commandership. Some of those positions are actually being commanded now by three- or two-star generals, because most of the four-star generals are either jailed or being tried at the courts. And Turkey has serious problems with Syria and Iran," he said.
 
Climate of fear in military
 
The impact on the Turkish armed forces is spreading a climate of fear throughout the country's military, according to Gareth Jenkins, an expert on Turkish military affairs.
 
"Those who aren't behind bars are looking over their shoulders, and it makes the military very reluctant to communicate with each other. They are hesitant about attending training seminars, because if they go to a training seminar maybe a couple of months later, there will be charges that those at the training seminar were planning a coup. A lot of officers are looking for early retirement," he said.
 
According to Turkish media, around 100 Turkish fighter pilots resigned so far this year, along with a senior air force general. Last year also saw a number of high-level resignations as a result of the ongoing judicial probes.
 
Still, despite these investigations, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned as "unacceptable" the arrest of former armed forces chief Ilker Basbug on charges of heading a terrorist organization.
 
Newspaper columnist Demir believes Erdogan has reasons to regret the court's decisions.
 
"He did not want so many generals to be jailed," he said. "In reality, the government needs a strong Turkish army to show its muscle to the enemies surrounding Turkey." 
 
In response to Monday's convictions, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc stressed that the judicial process has not ended because Turkey's Supreme Court still needs to weigh in.
 
Observers say the government's relationship with the present chiefs of the armed forces is improving. Demir says that relationship will be important in rebuilding the armed forces.
 
"There is now a brilliant cooperation among the Turkish army command chain and the Turkish government, and it will take some time to see it becoming better," he said. "Otherwise there are basic steps that need to be taken to make it better."
 
With the situation in Syria continuing to deteriorate, Analysts say, both government officials and the members of the armed forces will be anxious to establish a strong working relationship and overcome the disruption caused by the convictions.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid