ISTANBUL – Isik Kosaner will succeed Ilker Basbug as Commander-in-Chief of the Turkish army at the end of August. Basbug will retire as planned. The decision was made during the annual meeting of the Supreme Military Council, presided over by Prime Minister Erdoğan, as reported in the Turkish media on Monday.
That Kosaner (65) would succeed Basbug was in fact already clear two years ago, when he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Turkish land forces: the land forces commander is normally the one who succeeds the chief of staff. Kosaner not only finished his training at the Military Academy in Turkey, but also studied at an education institute of NATO and a military academy in London. He served as officer with NATO troops in Italy. In his early army years he served as a commander in ‘operation Atilla’, the action in which Turkey landed on Cyprus and occupied the northern part of the island in 1974.
Kosaner takes over from Basbug in turbulent times: several high-ranking officers are suspected of involvement in coup plans, and the government of Prime Minister Erdoğan is trying to amend the constitution to (among other things) further limit the army’s power. It is now up to Kosaner to find a middle way between defending his people on the one hand, and not being suspected of protecting possible coup plotters on the other. Kosaner himself is not under suspicion.