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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid