Turkey's military is in turmoil after four of the country's most senior commanders quit in protest over the detention of 250 officers on charges of conspiring against the government.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul denied Saturday that Ankara faced a crisis following the resignation, but acknowledged this had created an “extraordinary” situation.
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“Nobody should view this as any sort of crisis or continuing problem in Turkey,” Gul told reporters on Saturday. “Undoubtedly events yesterday were an extraordinary situation in themselves, but everything is on course.”
Analysts believe the subtext of his message was clear: the government is in firm control and there's no danger of a coup.
The departure of the generals has caused turmoil in the military, giving Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan an opportunity to extend his authority over the once-dominant armed forces, the second biggest in NATO.
Chief of General Staff General Isik Kosaner stepped down on Friday evening along with the army, navy and air force commanders in protest over the detention of 250 officers on charges of conspiring against Erdogan's government.
In a farewell message to “brothers in arms,” Kosaner said it was impossible to continue as he could not defend the rights of men detained due to a flawed judicial process.
Relations between the secularist military and Erdogan's socially conservative Justice and Development Party (AK) have been fraught since it first won power in 2002, due to mistrust of the AK's Islamist roots.
While the departures are embarrassing, they could give Erdogan a decisive victory over a military that sees itself as guardian of the secularist state envisioned by the soldier statesman and founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Analysts perceive little political threat to Erdogan's supremacy. AK won a third consecutive term, taking 50 percent of the vote, in a parliamentary election in June.
Erdogan swiftly named General Necdet Ozel, formerly commander of the military police, as Kosaner's successor and the new head of the military.
AP contributed to this report
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