Turkey looks to rebuild Military after purging half its Generals

Turkey looks to rebuild Military after purging half its Generals

A day after Turkey dismissed more than 2,400 military personnel, its Supreme Military Council gathered in a hastily planned meeting for appointing their replacements.

Turkey’s military leaders must fill vacancies for 149 generals and admirals, nearly half of its 358-member contingent, who are suspected of being involved in the July 15 failed coup attempt.

The early Thursday meeting brought together Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and commanders of Turkey’s army, navy and air force.

Just before the meeting, two of Turkey’s top-ranking generals resigned.  Land Forces Chief of Staff General Ihsan Uyar and Training and Doctrine Command head General Kamil Basoglu stepped down.

Thursday in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Turkish authorities were within their rights to “pursue the coup plotters with all the means and possibilities of the state of law.”  But she expressed concern the Turkish government’s crackdown may not be “proportional”.

“But in a state of law, and that is what causes me concern and I am following very attentively, the principle of proportionality applies. And this principle of proportionality must be respected under all circumstances. And my concern arises from the fact (that authorities) are moving very hard and this principle of proportionality is perhaps not always at the center.”

The Turkish government also moved to shut down 131 television channels, newspapers and media outlets. It has issued 89 arrest warrants for journalists, 17 of whom are already in custody.

At least one journalist was taken into custody and arrest warrants were issued for 47 former members of the editorial staff of the country’s largest daily, Zaman.  The U.S. State Department said such moves against news media represent a “troubling trend.”

Arrest warrants were issued earlier for 42 individual journalists, 16 of whom are in custody.

Concerns about ‘long-term adverse impact’

Most of the newly issued arrest warrants were targeted at journalists allegedly affiliated with U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Erdogan government claims was the mastermind of the attempt to overturn failed coup earlier this month.

Zaman, which was placed under state control four months ago, had been closely connected with the Gulen movement.  Since March the newspaper has taken a strongly pro-government stance in its reporting.

The crackdown on journalists comes as part of a wider purge of government officials and academic leaders following the coup, which left nearly 300 people dead.

In a statement posted Wednesday on its website, the Turkish-American Scientists and Scholars Association (TASSA) said it is very worried about “the long-term adverse impact that recent events might have on higher education, academic freedom, and scientific advancement in Turkey,” and urged government leaders to elevate democracy and academic freedom in the country.

Turkish media reported last week that the country’s higher education board demanded the resignations of 1,577 university deans, while the education ministry had fired 15,200 teachers across the country.

Authorities at the interior ministry dismissed nearly 9,000 employees, it has been reported, and the finance ministry fired 1,500 people. Hundreds more were fired in the religious affairs directorate, the family and social policy ministry and the prime minister’s office.

In total, about 10,000 Turkish officials have been detained and another 50,000 have been suspended in less than two weeks.