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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Resigns

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

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