More government ministers to head Turkey’s military

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
Erdogan said that in the past two weeks 18,699 people have been detained [Reuters]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stacked a top military council with more government ministers among other tough measures against the country’s military establishment in the wake of a July 15 failed coup.

Erdogan issued the third decree on Sunday since declaring a three-month state of emergency, putting deputy prime ministers and justice, foreign and interior ministers in the Supreme Military Council – the body that makes decisions on military affairs and appointments.

The document also gave the president and prime minister the authority to issue direct orders to the commanders of the army, air force and navy.

Erdogan also dismissed 1,389 personnel from the army, including his chief military adviser, the Chief of General Staff’s charge d’affaires and the defence minister’s chief secretary, for suspected links to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based businessman he blames for a failed coup attempt.

The decree puts the military commands directly under the defence ministry and puts all military hospitals under the authority of the health ministry.

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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Erdogan: Will do everything for stability of Turkey

In an interview on Saturday with private A Haber television, Erdogan said he also wanted to put the country’s MIT intelligence agency and the chief of general staff’s headquarters under the presidency.

“If we can pass this small constitution package with (the opposition parties), then the chief of general staff and MIT will be tied to the president,” Erdogan told A Haber.

The package would need to be brought to parliament for a vote.

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.

READ MORE: The lessons to be learned from Turkey’s failed coup

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 Gulen’s supporters. 

Pro-Erdogan rally

On Sunday, thousands of people gathered in the German city of Cologne to denounce the failed coup and show support for Erdogan.

Germany is home to roughly three million people with Turkish roots.

As Sunday’s rally got under way, organisers played the Turkish and German national anthems and held a minute of silence for people killed in the attempted coup.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies