Erdoğan retires two generals lauded for resisting July 15 coup attempt

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed the retirement order of General Metin Temel and Second Army Commander General Zekai Aksakallı on Thursday as part of a decree issued after Thursday’s Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting.

According to the decree, Temel and Aksakallı, who both played important roles in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016, were made to retire due to a lack of positions they could be promoted to, Halk TV reported.

Aksakallı was at the General Staff Special Forces Command during the night of the coup attempt when putschists targeted the building. He ordered Sergeant Ömer Halisdemir to shoot putschist general Semih Terzi. Aksakallı also took part in the Turkish military’s Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Dabiq in northern Syria, as well as the battle to take control of Syria’s Bab province. He was removed from the Special Forces Command in the YAŞ meeting following the coup attempt.

A team of eight people had taken off from the Silopi Special Forces Base in southeastern Turkey in a helicopter to assassinate Temel on the night of the coup attempt, but the general had suspected an attack and readied his forces in time to push them back. Temel was appointed to the General Staff Inspection and Assessment Directorate with a presidential decree last year, in what was considered a demotion at the time. İsmail Metin Temel was also the commander of Turkey's military operations in northeastern Syrian town of Afrin in 2018.

“Special Forces Commander Aksakallı, who was one of the people who turned the tide on the night of July 15, was retired. What is this cleaning for?” journalist Can Dündar wrote in a tweet.

Seventeen generals and admirals were promoted to a higher rank in the YAŞ meeting, while 35 admirals and generals had their titles prolonged for a year.

With thirty generals and admirals retired in the meeting in a similar manner due to a lack of higher positions, and 51 colonels promoted to the rank of general and admiral, the Turkish Armed Forces will have 247 generals and admirals after August 30, when the appointments go into effect.

Deputy Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Metin Gürak and Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ercüment Tatlıoğlu were promoted to the ranks full general and full admiral respectively.

In May, President Erdoğan had removed from active duty another prominent admiral connected to the coup attempt, Navy Rear Admiral Cihat Yaycı, who resigned two days later.

Yaycı, who later came to be known as the architect of the maritime deal Turkey signed with Libya last year, had been staying in the same hotel in Marmaris as President Erdoğan on the night of the coup attempt. Yaycı testified to a Turkish court handling a coup case that he had been informed of a coup attempt in the evening over the phone, and quickly took action against it.