Erdogan Takes Control of Turkish Military Following Attempted Coup

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Erdogan supporters rally in Cologne.Photo: HENNING KAISER

Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan continued his crackdown on the Turkish military Sunday, following an attempted coup in which hundreds died and thousands were arrested. Erdogan, who declared a three-month state of emergency last week, reduced the military by almost 1,400 members and stacked its top ranks with government ministers — a move designed to give him complete control, according to Reuters.

The president’s crackdown has so far included the detention, suspension, or investigation of at least 60,000 people, as well as the closure of existing military academies. Going forward, the military will be under the control of the country’s Defense Ministry.

The news comes just after Turkish officials announced they’d freed 758 out of 989 conscripts who were arrested just after the attempted coup. These conscripts had been doing their compulsory military service at the time of the coup, and were reportedly released on the request of a judge after giving their testimony.

Erdogan’s reaction to the coup has created tension between Turkey and European nations — particularly Germany, where Erdogan was barred from addressing a pro-government rally in Cologne due to security concerns.

Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister, Ömer Celik, called Germany’s decision “an utter backsliding in freedom of speech and democracy,” and Erdogan said it’s “shameful” that leaders of fellow NATO countries have declined to visit Turkey after the attempted coup and have seemed more concerned with the fate of military organizers than with the country’s stability.

So far, according to Reuters, about 40 percent of Turkey’s military officials have been replaced, and last week 1,700 were dishonorably discharged for their role in the attempted coup. Outside the military, more than 9,000 police officers have been fired; nearly 3,000 prosecutors and judges have been suspended; more than 1,500 deans of public and private universities have been pressured to resign; and more than 20,000 teachers have been put on leave as a result of the coup.