Geopolitical Research Institute(GRI)/Εταιρεία Γεωπολιτικών Ερευνών(ΕΓΕ)

Δευτέρα, 1 Αυγούστου 2011

Reshaping Turkey's Military. The end of Kemalism ?

Turkey’s Supreme Military Council, or YAŞ, will begin its annual four-day meetings Monday with many question marks after the military brass’ unprecedented resignations Friday put the shape of the new command structure in serious doubt.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and acting Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel will co-chair the meetings which will meet in the absence of the land, air, naval and gendarmerie force commanders for the first time in history. YAŞ member and Commander of War Academies Gen. Bilgin Balanlı will also be absent from the meeting after he was arrested in May on charges of trying to topple the government, meaning that the council will convene with only 11 of the required 16 members.
Balanlı, however, is still expected to introduce his opinions about the appointments through a written statement, as the law permits him to do so.
Aegean Forces Commander Gen. Nusret Taşdeler will join the meeting if a court ignores a prosecutor’s arrest warrant against him. According to the prosecutor’s indictment, 22 high-ranking officers, including Taşdeler, were involved in a smear campaign against the government via a network of websites.
The resignations of former top commander Gen. Işık Koşaner, Land Forces Commander Gen. Erdal Ceylanoğlu, Naval Forces Commander Adm. Eşref Uğur Yiğit and Air Forces Commander Gen. Hasan Aksay caused a short-term crisis late Friday but the government prevented any further chaos by swiftly appointing Özel as the new Land Forces commander before promoting him to acting chief of General Staff.
Ceylanoğlu handed over his post of Land Forces commander to Özel in a ceremony late Saturday afternoon; immediately afterwards, Özel’s promotion to the rank of acting chief of General Staff was posted on the Prime Ministry’s website.
Özel’s rapid promotion will enable him to sit at the YAŞ meeting as the military’s top commander and to decide on the identities of the new forces commanders. “YAŞ will convene without any problem. Our chief of General Staff will meet our prime minister Monday morning at the military headquarters,” Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz told reporters Saturday. Yılmaz will also participate in the meetings.
This year’s YAŞ will sketch out a new military command and will also try to shape the future military structure. Özel’s formal appointment as chief of General Staff will likely be announced Thursday after all the promotions are approved by President Abdullah Gül. Özel will serve as the top commander until 2015.
New commanders to be decided by Erdoğan
The main challenges will emerge in the appointments of force commanders. While force commanders are generally appointed upon the chief of General Staff’s requests as per military customs, this will not be the case at this year’s YAŞ, according to Hüseyin Çelik, deputy leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.
The chief of General Staff can propose some names, but the final say belongs to the prime minister, he told daily Milliyet on Sunday. Gül made a similar, if stronger statement, to this end Friday hours before the resignations, saying, “I will not sign any decree with my eyes closed.”
It thus appears extremely likely that the selection of the new force commanders will be made according to the wishes of Gül and Erdoğan, especially in terms of the new Land Forces commander.
According to unconfirmed reports, Fleet Cmdr. Adm. Murat Bilgel will become the new Naval Forces commander, while Lt. Gen. Mehmet Erten has the chance of being appointed as the new Air Forces commander, as he is the only four-star general eligible for the post. Balanlı had been expected to take this post but his arrest in May has ruled him out for top posts. Erten, meanwhile, is expected to be promoted to the status of full general before assuming his post as the force commander.
Kıvrıkoğlu or Kalyoncu to Land Forces
Following Özel’s promotion as the chief of General Staff, YAŞ will have to select two full generals for the positions of Land Forces and Gendarmerie Forces commander. For the ground forces, there are four likely choices: One of Gen. Saldıray Berk, commander of the EDOK, a key military educational and doctrinal unit; Vice Chief of General Staff Gen. Aslan Güner; 1st Army Commander Gen. Hayri Kıvrıkoğlu; and the chief of staff at the Land Forces, Cmdr. Gen. Bekir Kalyoncu, could become the new Land Forces commander.
The government, however, will likely try to force Berk to retire due to an ongoing case against him. As for Güner, it is speculated that the Presidency is against his appointment to the position; he could be posted to another position, but a lower-ranking officer’s appointment to the position of Land Forces commander would likely convince him to resign from the military.
Kıvrıkoğlu’s situation is also complicated. He is the nephew of a former chief of General Staff, Hüseyin Kıvrıkoğlu, who fought against political Islamist movements in Turkey; Hayri Kıvrıkoğlu also hit headlines when he did not attend a welcoming ceremony for Gül when he was serving in northern Cyprus.
For the Gendarmerie Forces, Servet Yörük and Yalçın Ataman are the two strongest candidates. Both were promoted to the rank of full general last year.
No luncheons due to Ramadan
According to customs, the chief of General Staff hosts YAŞ members at a luncheon on the first day of the YAŞ meetings right after visiting Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey. However, as it is the first day of Ramadan, no luncheons are planned.
This program was finalized before Koşaner resigned from his post
Source : Hurriyet Daily News

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