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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid