"What worries me is the wrong military spending made under the cover of
secrecy," Lale Sariibrahimoglu, a leading Turkish defense analyst and
Ms. Sariibrahimoglu, who reports on Turkey for Western defense
publications, told a seminar in Istanbul on Nov. 22 that neither the public
nor parliament has been able to receive vital information on the military's
procurement and other programs. She said this has frustrated any debate on
the suitability of weapons purchases.
"You can see the military inventory from the Internet," Ms.
Sariibrahimoglu told the seminar, organized by Germany's Heinrich Boll
Stiftung. "Turkey is said to be fighting terror for the past 25 years in the
southeast. Yet when you look at the arms purchased, they are rather
conventional arms, not efficient for fighting terrorism. For example, Turkey
recently signed an agreement to purchase submarines."
Few of Turkey's major procurement programs have been linked to the
counter-insurgency campaign against Kurdish rebels in neighboring Iraq. Over
the last three years, Ankara has ordered more than $6 billion worth of
fighter-jets and upgrades, submarines, main battle tank upgrades and
unmanned aerial vehicles.
At the seminar, a report was released on the Turkish military by the
Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation. The foundation also appealed
to the government to demand greater transparency from Turkey's military and
security forces. The EU has deemed the lack of military reforms a leading
obstacle to Turkey's request for membership.
"There is a need to create pressure from society in order for parliament
to increase its authority in the area of control," the report, authored by
Turkish analyst Hale Akay, said.
The report said parliament, including the National Defense Commission,
maintains no control over the military. The commission has not been given
access to the military budget, rather was limited to legal issues.
"Parliament should increase its control over military spending and
especially follow up on where money that is outside of the military budget
is spent," Ms. Sariibrahimoglu said.
But the seminar was told that the military was refusing to cooperate
with parliament and other institutions. Several speakers reported of
military officers being intimidated against working with Turkish
institutions that were researching the armed forces.
"We need to take a picture of the fears in Turkey," Zeynep Sarlak, a
Turkish defense researcher, said. "Who is afraid of whom?"