Turkey dismisses almost 1,400 military personnel

Government dismisses 1,389 from the armed forces for suspected links to businessman it blames for failed coup attempt.

Turkish soldiers take part in a parade to mark the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus in response to a briefly lived Greek-inspired coup, in the Turkish-administered northern part of Nicosia
President Erdogan said that that in the past two weeks 18,699 people have been detained in the post-coup crackdown [Reuters]

Turkey has dismissed 1,389 personnel from the army for suspected links to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based businessman it blames for a failed coup attempt, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

The announcement on Sunday came hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he planned to introduce several changes to the military, including shutting training academies.

“We are going to introduce a small constitutional package [to parliament] which, if approved, will bring the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) and chief of staff under the control of the presidency,” the AFP news agency quoted Erdogan as saying.

Erdogan added that “military schools will be closed … and a national military university will be founded” as part of a wide-ranging shake-up of the military.

He also said that in future the heads of the land, sea and air forces would have to report directly to the defence minister, Fikri Isik.

He also stacked the top military council, the Supreme Military Council (YAS) with government ministers, including deputy prime ministers and ministers of justice, the interior and foreign affairs.

Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Istanbul, said that the latest reforms were stripping the military of “any autonomy it might have enjoyed ahead of the failed coup attempt”.

“The Supreme Military Council is a very important body. It meets a couple of times a year and once a year it recommends who should be promoted, who should go for retirement in the higher ranks of the military,” he said. 

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The president has blamed intelligence failures for the failed coup and said he was unhappy with information he received from the MIT and its chief Hakan Fidan on the night of the coup, complaining that valuable time had been lost. 

Erdogan also said a three-month state of emergency declared in the wake of the coup could be extended.

“If things do not return to normal in the state of emergency then like France we could extend it,” Erdogan said, referring to a similar move in France after a string of attacks there. 

The president said that until now 18,699 people had been detained since the coup, with 10,137 of them placed under arrest.

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Thousands of the detained have now been released, with an Istanbul court freeing 758 soldiers late on Friday, adding to another 3,500 former suspects already freed.

Gulen was a one-time ally of Erdogan but the two fell out in recent years over a number of policy issues and personal clashes, according to officials, reports and insider accounts. 

The government has vowed to “cleanse” the civil service of his supporters. 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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