Turkey reshuffles military after half of generals fired

ANKARA: Turkey’s top military commanders met Thursday to replace almost half of their generals in a radical shake-up after the failed coup, as authorities shut down dozens of media outlets in a widening crackdown.
The hastily-convened meeting came after the government ordered the discharge of 149 generals — nearly half of the armed forces’ entire contingent of 358 — for alleged complicity in the putsch bid.
Separately, a total of 131 newspapers, TV channels and other media outlets were being shut down under the three-month state of emergency declared in the wake of the coup.
The July 15 rebellion saw plotters bomb Ankara from warplanes and wreak havoc with tanks on the streets of Istanbul in a bid to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
But it sparked a backlash affecting all aspects of Turkish life.
So far almost 16,000 people have been detained in a crackdown — the magnitude of which had caused international alarm.
“My concern has to do with the fact that the actions here are very tough and the principle of proportionality is not always central,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin.
The meeting of the Supreme Military Council (YAS), lasting more than five hours, brought together Prime Minister Binali Yildirim with top military figures untarnished by the coup.
Yildirim then left for the presidential palace to discuss the outcome with Erdogan. A statement was expected later.
In a possible move to pre-empt its decisions, two of Turkey’s top ranking generals — Land Forces Chief of Staff General Ihsan Uyar and Training and Doctrine Command head General Kamil Basoglu — resigned just before the meeting, the Dogan news agency said.
Lower-ranking officers were expected to be fast-tracked to fill gaps in top positions.
The purge saw 1,099 officers and 436 junior officers receive a dishonourable discharge as well as the 149 generals.
In a symbol of the military’s waning power, the meeting was held at the Cankaya Palace of the Turkish premier in Ankara and not, as is customary, at military headquarters.
Since the coup the military has already lost control of the coastguard and gendarmerie, which will now be the responsibility of the interior ministry.
The military insists that only a tiny proportion of the armed forces — which number around three quarters of a million, the second-largest in NATO after the US — took part in the attempted coup. But 178 generals have been detained, with 151 of them already remanded in custody.
Erdogan, who survived the biggest threat to his 13-year domination of the country when supporters countered the plotters on the streets, has blamed the attempted overthrow on US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen. AFP