Turkish opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said that there were besetting speculations regarding the Turkish Armed Forces and developments that could ruin the chain of command of the second biggest army within the Western alliance of the NATO. Claiming that no lessons have been drawn from the Gülenist [indicted as FETÖ] incident which led to the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, Kılıçdaroğlu called on President Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to keep the military out of daily politics.
Here are the statements by Kılıçdaroğlu exclusive to YetkinReport:
“There are disturbing speculations regarding the state of the military; concerns about whether it was the turn of the military in efforts of the government to turn the system into a party-state. I’m not talking about the military being subjected to the political authority: that is a must in democracies. I’m talking about dragging the military into daily politics and party preferences used in promotions and appointments in the military instead of merit. I feel uncomfortable about those speculations.”
Demirtaş as the example of politicized courts
“I had told the following in the Yenikapı rally in Istanbul right after the July 15 coup attempt: ‘Let’s keep politics away from the mosque, the barracks and the courts. If there will be politics in the mosques we’ll divide the society. If there is politics in the courtroom, we cannot find justice. If there is politics in the barracks, we cannot prevent coups.’ They [the government] let politics take over the mosques: we have observed that in the election process. They let politics into the courtroom by appointing partisan lawyers as judges or prosecutors. This has been done to such an extent that direct instructions were given to the judiciary. The typical example of that is the case of Selahattin Demirtaş [the former co-chairman of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)]. Now, they have managed to let politics into the military as we observed in the recent retirements, appointments and promotions by the recent Supreme Military Council (YAŞ).”
AKP influence claim in military promotions
“[In the recent YAŞ] appointments and promotions have been made according to political loyalty that is according to whether they have relatives or friends who are members of the AKP, instead of eligibility. [In answer to the question “Can you give some examples?”] I don’t want to give names in order not to cause further damage to the military, but unfortunately, the situation is not pleasant at all; anyone can make the research and find [the names] out. I’m concerned that any soldier might run after a politician for promotion, soon. That would ruin the chain of command in the military. A certain officer or a petty-officer NCO who got the promotion with the influence of a politician might no longer listen to the orders of his (or her) commander. We have observed such cases in the incident of FETÖ [The illegal network within the state led by the U.S.-resident Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen, who has been indicted to mastermind the 2016 coup attempt]… Bu no lessons are drawn out of it. The mistakes are repeated on purpose.”
Victims of Gülenists are being liquidated
“Moreover, it was told that the FETÖ people were cleaned from the military but now those officers who had resisted to the July 15 coup attempt, those officers who were the victims of the Ergenekon, Balyoz and similar [court case] plots are removed from the military with varying reasons. They are replaced by those with party references, having relatives or friends in the Party. AKP is doing the same as what the FETÖ structure did in the past.”
“Our military is the strongest in the Middle East and its region. But unfortunately, if the politics get into the military we will do worse harm to ourselves more than our enemies. I want to make this call on the government: keep the military of daily politics, keep the influence of the daily politics and the influence of the party away from the military. Let our army continue to be the strongest in the region and within the service of not the Party but the Constitutional democracy; the Parliament being the heart of it without any doubt.”
The meaning of Kılıçdaroğlu’s warning
The CHP leader’s call on President Erdoğan’s AKP government came at an interesting time. On one hand there are the military appointments and promotions which have been much debated in media and followed by resignations of several high-rank officers. On the other hand, news about a radical restructuring of the military under the coordination of the National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar surfaced.
When asked whether his warning had anything to do with that restructuring efforts, Kılıçdaroğlu’s answer was “No”. The CHP leader said that every modern army can upgrade itself according to the needs of the time per the military’s needs and the political decision of the governments. He said he only wanted to draw attention to the danger due to government’s tendency to make the army a part of “daily politics” and intensions to turn the Turkish system into a “party-state”.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s statements are likely to be debated publicly before the start of the new legislative year as the Parliament is scheduled to end the summer recess on October 1st.