News / Middle East

Turkey PM Worries About Army's Capabilities

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, is flanked by his advisor Yalcin Akdogan, left, and a security official as he arrives at his office in Ankara, January 30, 2013.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, is flanked by his advisor Yalcin Akdogan, left, and a security official as he arrives at his office in Ankara, January 30, 2013.
Dorian Jones
The Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for an end to the long detention of hundreds of military officers accused of conspiring against the government. For the first time, Erdogan admitted it was having an effect on the army's capabilities. The comments come as Turkey is facing increasing instability with its neighbors.

Hundreds of serving and retired army officers are on trial or have been languishing in jail for years awaiting court cases for conspiracies against Erdogan's government.  But the prime minister has voiced frustration at the lengthy legal process and admitted the damaging effect the situation has had on the military.

And with the prolonged crises in the region, namely in Syria and Iran,  a weak military could put Turkey in a vulnerable position.

Gareth Jenkins, an expert on Turkish military affairs, says those concerns are well founded.

"You have had this disruption organizationally not just because personnel have been put in prison but also those who have not been put in prison are worried they might be next. And this has to be of concern as we look ahead to what's going to be happening with Syria," said Jenkins. "We have seen this major deterioration in Turkey's relations with all its southern neighbors, Iran also, and the situation in Iraq is very confusing. Turkey needs to have its military in top condition."

Analysts say Ankara was rocked by the resignation this month of a senior admiral who was tapped to take command of the Turkish navy. His resignation was reportedly in response to the mass arrest of senior naval officers in connection with an espionage plot.

Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul's Bahcesehir University believes the prime minister's criticism of the judicial probes is part of an important realignment in Turkish politics.

"Since some time now the government and prime minister have been searching for a status quo with the military. In his mind, the demilitarization of the country is sufficiently done, and now it might be seen as a kind of trade off," said Aktar.

But Lale Kemal, a defense expert for the Turkish daily Taraf, worries the government and the country could pay a high price for any easing of its crackdown on the anti-democratic forces within the army.

"After the June 2011 elections, the government has given the break to all the military reforms. You have to ensure civilian democratic oversight of our armed forces, if you don't finish the reforms your military will always have an appetite in the future for making coup plans," said Kemal.

Since 1960, the Turkish army has forced four governments out of office. Some observers warn the culture for interfering with Turkish politics still exists in some quarters of the army.  Earlier this month, corruption watchdog Transparency International strongly criticized Turkey for the lack of oversight of the armed forces. But with growing turmoil in the region, analysts say Erdogan's priority is to have powerful armed forces.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid