Written by Global Jihad
General Isik Kosaner, the head of the Turkish armed forces, has quit along with the heads of the ground, naval and air forces Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency said, on Friday 07/29/2011, that the military chiefs wanted to retire because of tensions with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the recently re-elected prime minister.Anatolia reported Kosaner as resigning "as he saw it as necessary".
In a written statement released after the news of the generals' retirement, Erdogan said that the armed forces would continue to do their duty in a spirit of unity. Erdogan also named General Necdet Ozel, head of the gendarmerie paramilitary force, as both the commander of the ground forces and acting chief of the armed forces. Abdullah Gul, the president, approved the appointment. Ozel was the only one among the top commanders not to ask for retirement.
He was expected to be appointed as chief of the military's general staff in place of Kosaner, as tradition dictates only the ground forces head can take over the armed forces.
Hurriyet, a Turkish daily newspaper, said on its website that Kosaner was quitting his post as an act of protest against the court cases jailing military officers, which meant he could no longer defend the rights of his staff. This is the first time so many top commanders in Turkey have stepped down at once.
The mass retirement notices came hours after a court charged 22 suspects, including several generals and officers, with carrying out an internet campaign to undermine the government.
The unprecedented departures come ahead of the annual spring meeting scheduled for August 1, where leaders of the government and the military come together to discuss key appointments for the next year.
Reports say Friday's news signals a deep-rooted rift between the military and the government, amid an ongoing trial accusing dozens of generals and officers for plotting to overthrow the government. In 2003 case called the "Sledgehammer", 17 generals and admirals in line for promotion have been jailed along with nearly 200 officers on charges of plotting to over throw the government. More than 400 people - including academics, journalists, politicians and soldiers - are also on trial on separate charges of plotting to bring down the government. That case is based on a conspiracy by an alleged gang of secular nationalists called "Ergenekon".
Erdogan's ruling AK party, which won a third term in elections on 06/12/2011 in a landslide victory, has said its key goal is to replace a military-era constitution with a more democratic one. But critics say AK has a secret Islamist agenda, an allegation it denies. Nevertheless the collective resignation indicates unease in the Turkish armed forces of the growing role of Islam in Turkish state affairs and growing Islamization and radicalization of the Turkish society (see - Turkish Radicalization), still a key member in NATO (see - Turk-US Relations).
The announcement comes amid an upsurge in fighting in southeast Turkey between the military and the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party guerrillas.