Turkish defence minister says the military stronger after mass dismissal of Gülenists

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Thursday that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) had become stronger after 17,498 people had been dismissed from the military over links to Gülen movement, a religious group the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016, Hürriyet daily reported

Radical changes were made to restructure the TSK and many military schools were shut down following the failed putsch of 2016. Some 170 generals and around 7,000 other senior military officers were arrested as part of the crackdown.

“As the traitors inside us have been cleaned, the TSK strengthened and keeps on strengthening,” Akar said during a ceremony for the military personnel who were promoted or appointed to new positions in last month’s Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting. 

The minister said Turkey’s success in recent years in anti-terror operations was an indication of strengthening the military. 

“Our purpose is to clean all of those terrorists inside us and not to allow even a single traitor to wear this glorious uniform,” Akar said, adding that the number of sacked personnel since the coup attempt has reached 17,498, according to Hürriyet. 

Akar in his speech also addressed to reports in the Turkish media on some generals resigning in protest to YAŞ decisions. 

T24 news site last week reported that it had confirmed from sources in the military that five generals had submitted their resignations. Akar on Monday said the ministry received the resignations of only two generals, adding that they had used their right to retire. 

Some commentators in Turkish media said last week that the resignations were linked to objections to the Turkish government’s Syria policy, while analyst Metin Gürcan said they were a result of imbalances in workloads. 

“There is no reason for exaggerating this issue, interpreting it such ways,” Akar said in relations to comments on resignations. “This is a natural process, it is everyone’s natural right,” he said.