Conflict & Justice

Turkey: top military commanders resign

All of Turkey's top military commanders resigned Friday in protest over the arrests of dozens of generals, prompting Turks to question if the military has lost its power over the country's political system.

The move threw Turkey's military, which is NATO's second largest armed forces, into uncertainty, Reuters reports.

The resignations are being seen by analysts as a failed attempt by the military to exert it dwindling influence, The New York Times reports.

The head of Turkey's armed forces, Gen. Isik Kosaner, resigned along with the heads of the army, navy and air force.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan then accepted the resignations and made Gen. Necdet Ozel, who had been the commander of the military police, the senior military commander.

“This is effectively the end of the military’s role in Turkish democracy,” Asli Aydintasbas, a columnist for the Turkish daily newspaper Milliyet, told the Times. “This is the symbolic moment where the first Turkish republic ends and the second republic begins.”

The commanders resigned hours after a Turkish court charged close to two dozen suspects, including some generals, with trying to undermine the government through an online campaign. The commanders were angry with the arrest of generals shortly before a round of promotions, BBC reports. The senior military wanted to go ahead with planned promotions, but the government refused.

"There has been a history of tension between the secularist military and the governing AK party, with the two sides engaged in a war of words for the past two years over allegations that parts of the military had been plotting a coup," BBC states.

In the past year, more than 40 generals have been taken into custody, the Times reports.

The Supreme Military Council is expected to decide on the promotions next week.

The military has traditionally held great power in Turkey.