Turkey's new military chief

Discussion in 'General Global Topics' started by CSM, Aug 10, 2006.

  1. CSM
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    CSM Senior Member

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    Radio Netherlands August 1, 2006

    New Turkish Military Chief is a Controversial Choice

    There has been a surprising development in Turkey, where General Yasar Buyukanit has been appointed chief of the general staff of the armed forces. His candidacy was no secret but the appointment was not expected this soon. The unusual haste in this case seems designed to wrong-foot objectors. And there will be objectors, since General Buyukanit is known as an outspoken, old-fashioned, anti-Islamic hawk.

    The Turkish military still occupy their powerful position as guardian of the ideology of Kemal Atatürk, the "father of the Turks". He laid the basis in the 1920s for the modern Turkish state and one of his major tenets was a strict division between mosque and state.

    Intervention

    The army has seized power, temporarily, on three occasions when it believed Atatürk's legacy was in danger. The last full-blown coup d'état was in 1980. But the army also intervened in 1996 when Turkey got its first Islamist prime minister in the shape of Necmettin Erbakan. Within a year he was forced to resign and his Welfare Party was taken to court and disbanded.

    Current PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also felt the power of the military at first hand. In 1998 he was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment for quoting a poem in which mosques are compared with army barracks. When his Islamic-oriented AK Party won the 2002 elections, Mr Erdogan was initially unable to become PM because of this conviction.

    Accommodation

    However, a major change seemed to take place in 2003. The army allowed Erdogan to take power and, in turn, he carefully avoided potentially explosive topics such as tampering with the constitutional ban on headscarves and the financing of the military.

    That development was partly the work of General Hilmi Özkök, chief of the general staff, succeeded by General Buyukanit. General Özkök deliberately kept the military in the background while Prime Minister Erdogan carried out necessary political reforms and steered a decidedly pro-European course. Membership of the EU seemed to be a goal the government, the military and broad sections of the public could all agree upon.

    Polarisation

    But that was three years ago and, in the view of many Turks, Brussels has muddied the waters by failing to cooperate anything like enthusiastically enough. Recent polls carried out by 2 Turkish universities show that popular support for EU membership has decreased from 74 to 54%, while religious conservatism is increasing by leaps and bounds and the Islamic voters are losing patience with Prime Minister Erdogan's deferential approach.

    The military have also become more polarised. The generals no longer believe the EU as the answer to Turkey's problems; they are more interested in the country's role as a NATO ally of the US. Gen Buyukanit is a controversial figure with a reputation for being pro-American and a similar hardline attitude towards terrorism as the Bush administration.

    PM Erdogan must be in a sombre mood following the appointment. He did make an attempt to forestall this by accusing Gen Buyukanit, behind the scenes, of forming a clandestine anti-Kurdish hit squad. However, this did not produce the judicial investigation he was hoping for and Erdogan knew better than to come out publicly against the choice of the Supreme Military Council. The calls from within the ranks of his own party for him to follow a more pronounced Islamic line already pose a great enough threat to his position.


    Turkey might be worth watching more closely. Maybe Canvar can shed some light or at least share his opinion.
     
  2. ekrem
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    ekrem VIP Member

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    Absolutely hardliner. A sort of Turk the world hasn't seen for a long time.

    Turkish army is no dictatorship and in a 4 year intervall Head of military changes. But Yasar Buyukanit will only serve 2 years, because after 2 years he must go to pension due to his age.
    After him comes Ilker Basbug who is the same style.

    Now to his curriculum vitae:

    Yasar Bukanit is very committed to NATO and served as Chief of Unit in NATO's AFSOUTH in Napoli / Italy. And as Chief of Section in SHAPE NATO in Brussel for some years.

    Also he has the US medal Legion of Merit which was given him in December 2005 when he visited with his successor in 2008 Ilker basbug Washington, where they met Defense Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    In Turkey his military carrer was mainly in 2nd Turkish army, which is stationed in South-East and was ordered to fight PKK.
    In his duty for Turkish nation he was given the Turkish Armed Forces Medal of Honor, Turkish Armed Forces Medal of Distinguished Service, Medal of Distinguished Courage and Self-Sacrifice.

    Yasar Buyukanit is very active in the media and in public. He goes everywhere and let him be seen by everyone. And gives Turkish nation the sureness of a good future.



    Foreign press about Buyukanit

    Financial Times, UK
    Le Monde, France

    LeFigaro, France

    BBC, England
    http://www.thenewanatolian.com/tna-12151.html
     
  3. ekrem
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    ekrem VIP Member

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    The new Turkish miilitary top.

    Picture of all of them:
    http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/_newsimages/1962570.jpg

    Only the chiefs of the air force and navy remained unchanged.
    The other 4 were changed and these 4 Generals are regarded as hawks and extremely secular.

    - Yaşar Büyükanıt (Chief of General-Staff)
    - Engin Saygun (Vize Chief of Staff)
    - Ilker Basbug (Army Chief + Chief of General-Staff in 2008)
    - Işık Koşaner (Gendarmerie)


    All will begin their Duty in new Positions on 31. August 2006.
    And from this date on the whole general staff will have new faces and other interpretations of things going on in and around Turkey.
     
  4. CSM
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    CSM Senior Member

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    Do you consider this good for Turkey overall, Canvar? Sometimes hardliners can be a double edged sword. I am trying to understand how these leaders can change Turkey's position or, if not change it, have an impact. I would think a hardliner might be more forceful with PKK, for instance.
     

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