Turkish Military Expels Officers for Alleged Islamic Activity

Eurasia Daily, August 6, 2007

... Since the early 1990s, identifying Islamist sympathizers in the armed forces has become one of the primary objectives of Turkish military intelligence. Although the expelled officers are usually accused of Islamist “activities,” suspected intent rather than action is usually sufficient to ensure their expulsion. The expelled officers are rarely allowed access to the evidence gathered against them and, under Article 125 of the Turkish Constitution; there is no right of appeal against the Supreme Military Council (YAS) decisions. Expelled officers automatically lose all their pension rights and frequently have difficulty finding alternative employment.

Introducing the right of appeal against YAS decisions is one of several constitutional amendments currently being considered by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). Although they signed the latest YAS decision, both Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul noted their objections to the lack of a right of appeal ... Nevertheless, the Turkish General Staff (TGS) has opposed the introduction of a right of appeal, arguing that it would force the military to disclose classified information.

Until relatively recently, the TGS’s primary fear was infiltration by supporters of the Islamic preacher Fetullah Gulen, who is currently in exile in the United States. Gulen’s supporters in Turkey currently control a vast network of businesses, schools, charitable foundations, and media outlets. The movement was an outspoken supporter of the AK Party in the run up to the July 22 general election ... However, in recent years the TGS has also become concerned by the activities of the Naqshabandi Sufi brotherhood, which is one of the oldest and largest orders in Turkey. Although all Sufi brotherhoods are theoretically illegal in Turkey, in recent years they have begun to operate increasingly openly. In conversation with this Jamestown correspondent, leading Naqshabandis freely admit to trying to cultivate serving members of the military, although they insist that they are solely concerned with the officers’ spiritual well-being and have no ambitions either to influence the internal workings of the TGS or erode its traditional rigorous commitment to the principle of secularism enshrined in the Turkish constitution.

Nevertheless, an officer’s attitude toward religion has now become one of the main criteria for promotion ...

More: Eurasia Daily

No comments: