Free Headline Alerts     
Worldwide Web


Tuesday, February 23, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Turkey's Islamist government lowers the boom on secular military

ANKARA — Turkey has launched a crackdown on the military, arresting 50 commanders alleged to have plotted to overthrow the Islamic government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.   

At least 49 military commanders were arrested on Feb. 22 for alleged links to a plot to overthrow the Erdogan government, Middle East Newsline reported. The detainees were said to have planned to blow up mosques throughout Turkey in an effort to impose a state of emergency by the military.

Since the election of the Justice and Development Party in 2002, the ruling movement, with encouragement from the European Union, has sought to erode the authority of the fiercely secular military, which ousted four governments since 1960.

Also In This Edition

Officials said this marked the largest crackdown on the military by the Islamist government led by Erdogan.

"It would not be appropriate for me to talk about an issue that is already handled by the judiciary," Erdogan said.

Turkish police, led by representatives of the prosecution, raided eight cities in search for the suspects. Officials said the detainees included 17 retired generals, such as former air force commander Gen. Ibrahim Firtina and naval chief Adm. Ozden Ornek.

"Things will get better when those who were never accountable for their deeds begin to account for them," Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said.

The military officers have also been accused of planning to shoot down a Turkish fighter-jet and blame the incident on neighboring Greece. So far none of the more than 400 defendants charged in the coup plot, who also include academics, journalists and politicians, have been convicted.

Officials said the arrests have sparked alarm within the Turkish military leadership. They said Chief of Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug had postponed a scheduled trip to Egypt.

The government crackdown was launched despite warnings by Basbug that the military would not sit quietly as its officers were being arrested in the coup plot. In media interviews in mid-February, Basbug suggested that the military would release classified information that would rebut the charges by prosecutors.

The Erdogan government has played down the arrests. Interior Minister Besir Atalay said the arrests stemmed from an order by the judiciary rather than the political leadership.

"We have been following developments very closely," Atalay said.

About Us     l    Contact Us     l     l
Copyright © 2010    East West Services, Inc.    All rights reserved.