Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 33 more military officers over alleged Gülen links

The Aydın Chief Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday issued detention warrants for 33 more military personnel as part of an investigation into the faith-based Gülen movement, pro-government TGRT TV reported. According to the report 22 of 33 suspects have been detained in operations across 17 provinces.

One hundred thirty generals and admirals in the Turkish military were either dismissed or suspended as part of the widespread purge following the failed coup attempt in July of last year.

The government has been at the center of criticism for turning the Turkish forces into a political Islamist military in line with the wishes of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In February Defense Minister Fikri Işık said 30,000 new recruits would be enlisted in the Turkish military.

A month later Işık declared that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government had dismissed a total of 22,920 military personnel (6,511 officers and 16,409 cadets) after the coup attempt although the Turkish military stated on July 27 that only 8,651 military members including cadets and conscripts took part in the failed coup.

The Cumhuriyet daily reported in March that the government planned to investigate 90,000 more military members over links to the Gülen movement.

“If it was a coup perpetrated by the Gülen movement and 22,920 military personnel were dismissed for their connections to the movement as Erdoğan and the government assert, why did only 8,651 military members participate in the coup?” is a question being asked by critics.

In February Henri Barkey, director of the Middle East Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center, said that many generals purged by the Turkish government are pro-NATO and pro-American, saying this could create a shift in Turkey-NATO relations.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Director General of Public Security Selami Altınok on Tuesday said 22,987 police officers have been dismissed over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Tuesday that 55,665 people have been jailed and 234,419 passports have been revoked as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Soylu on Nov. 16 had said 8 holdings and 1,020 companies seized as part of operations against the movement.

The Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016 through government decrees issued as part of an ongoing state of emergency. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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