Military Arrests in Turkey

AP in The Guardian 22 February 2010

“Police in Turkey today detained more than 40 high-ranking military commanders for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Islamic-rooted government.

The arrests highlighted the ongoing struggle between the secular establishment and the government and leaves question marks over the traditional role of the military as the pillar of the secular state….

The military’s image was already tarnished by allegations it was secretly planning to depose Erdogan’s elected government for undermining secularism in the predominantly Muslim but officially secular country.

The commanders detained today are reportedly accused of seeking to foment chaos by blowing up mosques to trigger a military takeover. The military denies the accusation….

The detentions followed revelations of wiretap evidence and the discovery of secret weapons caches, which dealt a blow to the military’s credibility.

Turkey’s secular military has ousted four governments since 1960, which is why many Turks believe it has been the real power since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk created the republic out of the Ottoman Empire.”

Elsewhere Robert Tait claims:

“Turkey’s once all-powerful military is facing the biggest challenge to its authority in decades…

…Gareth Jenkins, an Istanbul-based specialist on Turkish military affairs, said the arrests could trigger a major crisis. “The prosecutors have four days to turn these detentions into formal arrests and if they do that, there is no way the army will sit back and not respond,” he said. “This is a power struggle between two authoritarian forces.”

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