Tensions building in Turkey between the miliary and Islamist government
ANKARA — Turkey's military has upped the ante in a showdown
with the government over an investigation of an alleged coup plot against
Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.
For the first time, the military's General Staff has criticized the
investigation of an alleged coup plot by former senior commanders. More than
120 people, including secular critics of the Erdogan government, have been
arrested or prosecuted on charges of terrorism.
"Basic human rights and principles of law are being breached, like the
constitutional principle of nobody is guilty unless found so by a court, or
the principle of innocence and right to a fair trial," Brig. Gen. Metin
Gurak, spokesman for the General Staff, told a news conference on Jan. 16.
"The precarious situation created by people who are expected to be more
responsible damages institutions, the judiciary and the state."
Senior officers and their secular allies have asserted that Erdogan was
using police and prosecutors to pursue his critics, Middle East Newsline reported. They pointed out that
one of those arrested was a senior prosecutor who had warned that Erdogan
was forming an Islamic dictatorship.
"Turkey has one army, and if they destroy it then Turkey will no longer
be Turkey," former Turkish Chief of Staff [Ret.] Gen. Huseyin Kivrikoglu
One of those charged has been [Ret.] Gen. Ismail Hakki Karadayi, chief
of staff between 1994 and 1998. Karadayi said the allegations against him
and other former officers could be linked to Turkish military operations in
Iraq and Greece in 1995 and 1996.
"These allegations are nonsense," Karadayi told the Turkish daily
Milliyet. "Allegations may have resulted as we completed those operations
successfully. However, we carried out our task, I do not regret anything I
The arrests have captivated the Turkish media and rocked the nation's
stock market. Government leaders have appealed for calm.
"Nobody should exert pressure on the judiciary in this process, and the
media should refrain from puttting forward names of many people in the media
in an irresponsible way," President Abdullah Gul said.