ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey appointed commanders yesterday to posts left vacant by the resignation of the military’s top brass in a dispute with the government that showcased the elected leaders’ strengthening control over the once-mighty military.
President Abdullah Gul approved the appointment of a new chief of staff as well as new commanders to head the navy, army, and air force at the end of a key four-day meeting to discuss military promotions and dismissals, said his spokesman, Ahmet Sever. The commanders will take their posts after a final Cabinet approval, he said.
The military chief of staff and the leaders of the navy, army, and air force stepped down last week, frustrated over the arrests and prosecution of hundreds of officers for allegedly trying to overthrow Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted government.
Erdogan’s government adamantly opposed promoting generals implicated in the alleged plots, prompting the resignations of the top brass, who said that the officers were being punished before a verdict and that the military was being portrayed as a “criminal’’ institution.
The new appointments show how the government is gaining the upper hand over the military, breaking with the tradition in which the military made its own decisions on promotions and dismissals within the ranks, having the government rubber-stamp the decisions.
The staunchly secular military has overthrown three governments since 1960 and pressured an Islamic-led government to step down in 1997.