Tension over military promotions in Turkey

ISTANBUL – Turkish President Gül rejected the promotion of eleven high officers because of possible complicity in an alleged coup plot, it is reported in several Turkish media on Thursday.

The planned promotions were to be made official during the four day long Supreme Military Council, the yearly meeting of top military personnel chaired by Prime Minister Erdoğan. Usually promotions are not disputed, but this time those of eleven high officers were thrown into doubt because an arrest warrant was ordered for them a few days before the Council started. They are supposedly involved in ‘Balyoz’, an alleged coup plot. The eleven started a court case against the arrest warrant, and thereby put the Council in deadlock: the army top brass continued to support the planned promotions, while Prime Minister Erdoğan resisted them. In the end President Gül blocked the promotions.

What is remarkable is that Gül also did not confirm the promotion of land forces commander Isik Kosaner. On Sunday, the first day of the Council, Kosaner was appointed successor to the current chief of staff Ilker Basbug. His position as land forces commander would be taken by Hasan Igsiz, but he was called to testify in a court case against the coup plotters and is therefore not the government’s favourite. The position of head of the land forces is important, since in general this leads to promotion to chief of staff several years afterward.

Later on Thursday an announcement is expected from President Gül about appointments in the highest ranks of the army.

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