The sources said the warrants and
indictments threaten to decimate the senior cadre of the Turkish military.
"The prime minister can ask the officers to be expelled," retired
military judge Faik Tarimcioglu said.
Under Turkish law, senior officers designated as suspects in a
criminal case cannot be promoted. The Turkish daily Zaman said those
indicted comprise 10 percent of all of the generals in the military, Middle East Newsline reported.
"Those found with claims are laid off from duty," Ali Safak, a leading
Turkish academic, said.
The indictments have sparked alarm within the General Staff, which over
the last year sought to reconcile with Erdogan. The sources said the Supreme
Military Council plans to discuss the indictments in August amid decisions
on promotions and retirement, including the expected departure of Chief of
Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug.
"Right now, I have hesitations regarding whether we should respect the
law," [Ret.] Gen. Suha Tanyeri, one of those indicted, said.
The sources said those indicted included a senior counter-insurgency
officer, commander of a Turkish Navy submarine fleet and Third Army
commander Gen. Saldiray Berk. The indictments have been handed down by a criminal
court in Istanbul, which does not have authority to enter military
Under Erdogan, the government has marginalized the military, which until
2003 was regarded as the last word on Turkish politics. On July 24, the
prime minister said he was prepared to revise a law that allowed the
military to intervene in government affairs.
"Let us set up a commission and discuss the issue in all aspects,"
Erdogan said. "Let's have the commission do its work. If need be we will
convene parliament in an extraordinary session."
Erdogan said he was ready to use his overwhelming majority in parliament
to amend the law when summer recess ends on Oct. 1. He said the revision of
the so-called Internal Services Law would take place regardless of the
opposition. The law, used to justify the 1980 coup, authorized the military
"to protect and keep watch over the Turkish homeland and Turkish republic."
The opposition has charged Erdogan with dominating the judiciary and law
enforcement community. The prime minister has been campaigning in a Sept. 12
referendum that the opposition said would enable the ruling Justice and
Development Party to control judicial appointments, including those for the
"If you submit a 'no' vote in the referendum, they will not have
anywhere to hide," opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said. "There is
nothing they [Erdogan's party] would not do to reach their goals."