ANKARA: Turkey’s top military body met on Wednesday for a critical gathering to discuss a possible shake-up of top ranks in a military already shaken by an unprecedented purge after last year’s failed coup.
The meeting of the Supreme Military Council (YAS) in Ankara was chaired by Prime Minister Binali Yildirim at his Cankaya Palace and brought together top military figures and ministers, state media said. The council will in particular decide on the future of the land forces commander General Salih Zeki Colak, naval chief Admiral Bulent Bostanoglu and air force commander General Abidin Unal, Hurriyet daily reported.
Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar, who was taken hostage in the coup bid, was also in attendance but his future is reportedly not in question. Akar’s term runs until 2019. The council usually meets only once a year but this is the third meeting since the July 15, 2016 coup bid blamed on the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. He denies the charges.
The officials will decide on promotions of generals, admirals and colonels during the one-day meeting, state-run news agency Anadolu said. The government upped the civilian component of the council following the failed coup, giving more place to government ministers than military figures.
Previously, such meetings were held at military headquarters but are now hosted by the prime minister. The gendarmerie forces commander is not taking part as the gendarmerie was put under control of the interior ministry in drastic changes to the military after the coup bid.
The government ordered the discharge of 149 generals, almost half of the military’s entire contingent at the time of 358, after the bid to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The changes after the coup bid further accelerated a weakening of the political influence of the once all-powerful military under the rule of Erdogan.
The military had regarded itself as the guardian of secular values and order in Turkey, stepping in four times since 1960 successfully to oust governments. The council will meet for dinner with Erdogan at 6pm (1500 GMT) at the presidential palace, the presidency website said. Any decisions made by the council are expected to be announced after Erdogan’s approval.
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