Turkey’s top military body has decided to replace the land, air and naval commanders of the military in the latest shake-up of the armed forces following last year’s failed coup, which the Ankara government blames on US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
During a Supreme Military Council (YAS) meeting chaired by Prime Minister Binali Yildirim at Cankaya Palace in the capital Ankara on Wednesday, it was decided to replace Land Forces Commander General Salih Zeki Colak, naval chief Admiral Bulent Bostanoglu and Air Force Commander General Abidin Unal.
The incumbent commander of the Gendarmerie and former deputy chief of staff, General Yaşar Güler, was appointed as the army commander, while Vice Admiral Adnan Özbal replaced Bostanoglu.
General Hasan Küçükakyüz was appointed as the new Air Force commander as well.
The decisions made during the YAS meeting were presented to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan later in the day for formal approval.
Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency reported on July 23 that the number of generals and admirals in the Turkish military had decreased 40 percent due to the dismissals after the botched putsch.
It said the number had decreased from 326 to 196 after the military coup attempt.
Turkey witnessed a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, when a faction of the Turkish military declared that the government of Erdogan was no more in charge of the country.
A few hours later, however, the coup was suppressed. Almost 250 people were killed and nearly 2,200 others wounded in the abortive coup.
Gulen has censured the coup attempt and strongly denied any involvement in it.
Turkey remains in a state of emergency since the coup, and Ankara has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups, who were believed to have played a role in the failed putsch.
Over 40,000 people have been arrested and more than 120,000 others sacked or suspended from a wide range of professions, including soldiers, police, teachers, and public servants, over alleged links to the failed coup.
Many rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have denounced Ankara’s heavy clampdown.