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Friday, December 3, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Turkey's military pressed to accept Islamists; Tensions high

ANKARA — Turkey's military, under heavy government pressure, has suspended its dismissal of Islamic fundamentalists.


The Supreme Military Council has halted the longstanding practice of expelling Turkish soldiers and officers suspected of Islamist ties. At a council meeting on Nov. 30, no soldiers were dismissed.

"This is unprecedented, but clearly reflects the fact that the military now answers to the government and not the other way around," a Turkish official said.

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Relations between the military and government remain tense. President Abdullah Gul cut short the military council session for a trip to Kazakhstan. Usually, the president has ended the council meeting by hosting lunch for senior commanders.

On Oct. 29, the Turkish General Staff boycotted a presidential reception after the suspension of three generals. The generals have appealed to the Supreme Military Administrative Court, Middle East Newsline reported.

Officials said the council has been under increasing pressure from the pro-Islamist government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to stop firing soldiers suspected of being fundamentalists. Over the last three years, the military council has been expelling fewer and fewer Islamists.

"The council discussed requirements for military operations as well security of Turkey's borders," a statement said.

In 2009, two military officers were dismissed. Before the military meeting, Erdogan met Chief of Staff Gen. Isik Kosaner to coordinate proceedings.

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