1,076 pro-NATO soldiers purged from Turkish military since end of state of emergency

A total of 1,076 military members have been dismissed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the end of a state of emergency declared after a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

According to Defense Ministry sources who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, 624 members of the land forces, 107 from the naval forces and 345 air forces members have been relieved of duty.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Wednesday said that “[the ministry] and the Turkish Armed Forces are decisively continuing their battle” with the movement.

“The fight is being carried out with attention and precision in line with the criteria determined by all force commanders, headquarters, unions and institutions as a whole and is continuing as new information and documents are published.”

Akar said the purge was making the Turkish military stronger and more effective.

However, Akar admitted on January 1 that a single pilot in the Turkish Air Forces has to carry out assignments that are normally undertaken by five pilots, revealing the heavy toll an unprecedented purge took on the country’s air force, Nordic Monitor reported.

This was the first public admission by a senior government official of the acute shortage of fighter pilots in the Turkish military in the aftermath of a mass purge of officers from the air force on what observers believe are dubious charges.

Mentioning that purges have taken a huge toll on civil servants in Turkey, where more than 150,000 civil servants and thousands of military officers have been dismissed so far, Stockholm Center for Freedom President Abdullah Bozkurt said at an event organized last week by the Norwegian branch of PEN International, “The Erdoğan government is firing pro-NATO officers in the army and pro-EU bureaucrats in the state apparatus and replacing them with those who are anti-Western, pro-Iran and pro-Russia.”

During the state of emergency, which ended in July 2018, over 5,000 military members including high-ranking generals were purged from the army under government decrees. (SCF, turkishminute.com, Nordic Monitor)

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