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Sunday, July 31, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Turkey's entire military command quits in protest

ANKARA — In an unprecedented move, Turkey's military leadership has resigned in protest of a crackdown by the Islamic government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.


On July 29, Turkish Chief of Staff Gen. Isik Kosaner announced his resignation in protest of the arrest of senior officers on suspicion of plotting against the government, Middle East Newsline reported. Hours later, Kosanir was joined by the commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

"They tried to create the impression that the Turkish armed forces was a criminal organization and the biased media encouraged this with all kinds of false stories, smears and allegations," Kosaner said in a statement.

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Turkish prosecutors have arrested more than 200 officers on allegations of participating in a plot to overthrow the government in 2003. In most cases, little evidence was brought against the 173 serving and 77 retired officers, including 40 generals.

On July 29, a Turkish court approved an indictment against 22 officers charged with participating in another alleged military plot. Turkey's media said the indictment prompted Kosaner's decision to resign.

"As this situation cannot be prevented and applications to the authorities [for a solution] are disregarded, I, as the chief of staff was not able to protect my personnel's rights," Kosaner said.

The resignation came ahead of a meeting of the Supreme Military Council on Aug. 1. The meeting was meant to reach agreement on the appointment of new military chiefs later in the month.

"It is clear as day that this extraordinary development has opened the door to a serious state crisis," Devlet Bahceli, head of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party, said.

In response, Erdogan canceled a trip abroad and convened his top aides. The prime minister then issued a statement that announced the appointment of Gendarmerie commander Gen. Necdet Ozel as head of the Army and acting deputy chief of staff.

"No one should see this as a crisis in Turkey," President Abdullah Gul said on July 20. "The developments were extraordinary within its scope, but as you see everything is continuing on its own course. There is no [power] vacuum."

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