Turkey's President Reforms Military after Failed Coup

President Erdogan of Turkey gives a speech on July 29 in Ankara, commemorating those killed and wounded during a failed July 15 military coup. (Kayhan Ozer, Presidential Press Service, via AP)
President Erdogan of Turkey gives a speech on July 29 in Ankara, commemorating those killed and wounded during a failed July 15 military coup. (Kayhan Ozer, Presidential Press Service, via AP)

ISTANBUL -- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a new presidential decree Sunday that introduced sweeping reforms to Turkey's military in the wake of a July 15 failed coup, bringing the Turkish armed forces under further civilian authority.

The decree, the third to have been issued after a three-month state of emergency was declared following the attempted coup, gives the president and prime minister the authority to issue direct orders to the commanders of the army, air force and navy.

It also announces the discharge of 1,389 military personnel, including Erdogan's chief military adviser who had been arrested days after the attempted putsch, the Chief of General Staff's charge d'affaires and the defense minister's chief secretary.

It puts the force commands directly under the defense ministry, puts all military hospitals under the authority of the health ministry instead of the military, and also expands the Supreme Military Council — the body which makes decisions on military affairs and appointments — to include the deputy prime ministers and the justice, foreign and interior ministers.

The document, published in the official gazette Sunday, also shuts down all military schools, academies and non-commissioned officer training institutes and establishes a new national defense university to train officers.

In the wake of the attempted coup, which killed more than 200 people, Erdogan launched a sweeping crackdown on those believed linked to the movement of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of instigating the coup. Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, denies any knowledge of the coup.

More than 10,000 have been arrested in the crackdown, most of whom are military personnel. Thousands more have been detained while nearly 70,000 people have been suspended or dismissed from their jobs in the education, media, health care, military and judiciary sectors.

In an interview with A Haber television Saturday, Erdogan said he also wanted to put the country's intelligence agency MIT and the chief of general staff's headquarters under the presidency.

"If we can pass this small constitution package with (the opposition parties), then the chief of general staff and MIT will be tied to the president," Erdogan told A Haber.

The package would need to be brought to parliament for a vote.

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