Turkey reshuffles military after half of generals fired
28 July 2016, 18:18
Ankara - Turkey's top military commanders met on Thursday
to replace almost half of their generals in a radical shake-up after the failed
coup, as authorities shut down dozens of media outlets in a widening crackdown.
The hastily convened meeting came after the
government ordered the discharge of 149 generals - nearly half the armed forces'
entire contingent of 358 - for complicity in the coup bid.
In a separate move, a total of 131 newspapers, TV
channels and other media outlets were being shut down.
The July 15 rebellion, which saw plotters bomb
Ankara from war planes and wreak havoc with tanks on the streets of Istanbul in
a bid to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has sparked a backlash
affecting all aspects of Turkish life.
So far almost 16 000 people have been detained in a
crackdown - the magnitude of which had caused international alarm.
The meeting of the Supreme Military Council (YAS)
began in Ankara at around 08:30 GMT, bringing together Prime Minister Binali
Yildirim and the army, navy and air force commanders, along with other top
figures untarnished by the coup.
In a possible move to pre-empt its decisions, two
of Turkey's top ranking generals - Land Forces Chief of Staff General Ihsan
Uyar and Training and Doctrine Command head General Kamil Basoglu - resigned
just before the meeting, the Dogan news agency said.
Eighty-seven land army generals, 30 air force
generals and 32 admirals have been dishonourably discharged over their
complicity in the failed coup, a Turkish official said, confirming a government
In addition, 1 099 officers and 436 junior officers
have received a dishonourable discharge, according to the decree.
The council will decide on the personnel changes
required after the coup, with lower-ranking officers expected to be
fast-tracked to fill gaps in top positions.
In a symbol of the military's waning power, the
meeting is being held at the Cankaya Palace of the Turkish premier in Ankara
and not, as is customary, at military headquarters.
It is expected to last just one day, as opposed to
up to three days in the past, a Turkish official said.
In the wake of the coup,
the military has already lost control of the coastguard and gendarmerie, which
will now be the responsibility of the interior ministry.
The army said Wednesday that 8 651 of its military
personnel had been involved in the rebellion -- 1.5% of its total number -
along with 35 planes, 37 helicopters, 74 tanks and three ships.
The military has insisted that only a tiny proportion
of the total armed forces - which number around three-quarters
of a million, the second-largest in Nato after the United States -
But 178 generals have been detained, with 151 of
them already remanded in custody.
Erdogan, who survived the biggest threat to his
13-year domination of the country when supporters countered the plotters on the
streets, has blamed the attempted overthrow on US-based preacher Fethullah Gülen.
The cleric denies the charges, but Turkey insists
radical measures are needed to eradicate what Erdogan describes as the
"virus" of Gülen's influence across all Turkish institutions.
Meanwhile, three news agencies, 16 television
stations, 23 radio stations, 45 newspapers, 15 magazines and 29 publishers were
ordered to shut down, the country's official gazette said.
It did not give the names of the media outlets to
be closed, but according to a list obtained by the CNN-Turk channel they
include mainly provincial titles as well as some well-known national media.
These include the opposition daily newspaper Taraf,
as well as the Zaman newspaper and its English-language sister publication,
Today's Zaman, which were part of a holding linked to Gülen until being put
into state administration earlier this year.
Authorities handed out arrest warrants for 42
journalists earlier this week and on Wednesday issued another 47 for former
Both the discharges of generals and the newspaper
closures are being enforced under a three-month state of emergency, which was
declared by Erdogan to the alarm of the European Union.
Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, who is Erdogan's
son-in-law, said a major army shake-up had been planned just before the putsch -
suggesting elements in the military made the dramatic move because they knew
they were about to be purged.