Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a shakeup of the country’s armed forces and dismissed nearly 1,400 more military personnel in the wake of a failed coup attempt earlier this month. The decree also closes Turkey’s military schools.
As part of the recent changes, “Turkey’s land, naval and air forces are now directly answerable to the Defense Ministry,” the state-run Anadolu News Agency reports. This expands the government’s control of the military, as NPR’s Peter Kenyon explains. Previously, the army was not answerable to the Defense Ministry, he says.
The emergency decree published Sunday “closes all of Turkey’s war academies, military high schools, and high schools that train non-commissioned officers,” according to Anadolu. They will be replaced by a new university called the “National Defense University,” under the control of the Defense Ministry.
Among the officers who were dismissed are one of Erdogan’s key aides, and advisers to the Army Chief of Staff and Defense Minister, as Peter tells our Newscast unit.
“The expulsions from the military now exceed 3,000. Thousands more are facing charges related to the attempted coup,” as Peter reports. “The rapid and sweeping shakeup has some worried about the military’s readiness.”
The Turkish military is the second-largest in NATO, as Reuters reported, and “the dishonorable discharges included about 40 percent of Turkey’s admirals and generals.”
According to Anadolu, the government says those expelled from the military had ties to Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric that it blames for the failed coup attempt. Gulen denies any involvement.
In a televised interview later Saturday, Erdogan also “suggested making the General Staff and the National Intelligence Agency directly answerable to the presidency,” and added that “this would be discussed with opposition leaders,” according to Anadolu.
Speaking on Morning Edition last week, Peter discussed the rapidly expanding crackdown, happening under a state of emergency:
“The state of emergency’s supposed to last three months. Government’s giving very mixed signals. Some officials say maybe it will be over in a few weeks. Others say, well, it could be extended if necessary. There’s kind of a feeling here the government wants to strike quickly and strongly while it’s got these extra powers. The question is what kind of government or military will be left when it’s over?”