Erdoğan pushed most generals, admirals out of Turkish military after coup attempt - report

Following the July 2016 coup attempt, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) removed almost all flag officers from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) while allowing Islamists and neo-nationalists to shoot up the ranks, Stockholm-based Nordic Monitor said on Saturday.

Merely 42 flag officers out of the 325 who were on active duty at the time of the failed putsch have retained their rank or received promotions, it said citing a report it compiled based on confidential military documents.

The number of generals and admirals pushed out of the Turkish military following the failed coup under the pretext of criminal prosecutions, administrative dismissals, early retirements and forced resignation schemes is much higher than reported, it said. 

Over 300 people were killed and more than 2,100 were injured during the failed putsch of July 15, 2016, which Ankara maintains was orchestrated by the Gülen movement. The Turkish government says the religious group, with U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen at the helm, led a long-running scheme to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by infiltrating Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

In the crackdown by the Turkish government since the failed coup, more than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial, including 6,760 members of the military, and about 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs.

A large number of the generals and admirals still serving in the military are those who failed to prevent the coup attempt despite having received information about the failed putsch hours before it started, it said.

A total of 8,651 military personnel took part in the coup, corresponding to only 1.5 percent of the TSK, according to official reports. Of those, 1,761 were conscripted privates and 1,214 military cadets.

There are currently 150 generals and thousands of officers on trial on coup charges, Nordic Monitor recalled, noting that military experts raise their eyebrows at such an insignificant number of troops taking part in the coup attempt.

Nineteen generals who were on active duty in July 2016 have resigned in the last three years, including two four star generals, Kamil Başoğlu and İhsan Uyar, the Stockholm-based site said.

Another 108 generals and admirals who were serving in 2016 retired from the military between 2016 and 2019, many forced to do so by the government in order to avoid being purged and imprisoned on false charges of membership in the Gülen movement, Nordic Monitor said. 

Erdoğan in August signed a decree published in the Official Gazette reshuffling senior positions within the TSK.

The decree followed decisions made at the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting placing 127 generals and admirals in new posts.

Accordingly, lieutenant generals were appointed as the head of the military’s second and third army commands instead of full generals. The decree also saw the complete absence of lieutenant generals promoted to general and the retirement of generals who have yet to complete their years in service.