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Turkish Military Faces Overhaul        07/28 06:16

   ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Thursday 
chaired a top-level military meeting that is likely to lead to a major shake-up 
within the country's armed forces following a failed coup by renegade military 
officers.

   The Supreme Military Council, gathering top commanders of NATO's 
second-largest army, met a day after Turkey discharged close to 1,700 officers 
--- including 149 generals and admirals --- suspected of involvement in the 
failed July 15 coup attempt. A senior Turkish official described the purges as 
"dishonorable discharge."

   The council, which decides on promotions and retirements, was expected to 
announce more dismissals on Thursday, while two senior generals offered their 
resignations as the key meeting was taking place.

   Turkey declared a state of emergency following the violent coup attempt that 
led to 290 deaths, and embarked on a large-scale clampdown on people suspected 
of ties to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government 
accuses of masterminding the coup. Nearly 16,000 people were detained over 
suspected links to the failed uprising, and about half of them were formally 
arrested to face trial.

   Tens of thousands of state employees have also been dismissed for alleged 
ties to Gulen, while schools, dormitories and hospitals associated with his 
movement have been closed down. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced 
Thursday that 88 employees of his ministry were dismissed, including two 
ambassadors.

   Authorities issued warrants for the detention of 89 journalists as the 
clampdown extended to the media. Dozens of media organizations --- most of them 
also linked to Gulen --- were ordered shuttered late Wednesday.

   The media organizations include 16 television stations, 23 radio stations, 
15 magazines, 29 publishing houses and 45 newspapers --- including a 
Gulen-linked children's television station and opposition daily Taraf.

   Gulen, who lives in the United States and runs a global network of schools 
and foundations, has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the coup attempt. 
Turkey has branded Gulen's movement a terrorist organization and wants the 
cleric extradited. The U.S. has told Turkey to present evidence against Gulen 
and let the U.S. extradition process take its course.

   Yildirim, accompanied by the top brass, visited the mausoleum of Mustafa 
Kemal Ataturk, modern Turkey's founder, before the council meeting, and vowed 
to overcome all terror threats.

   "There is no doubt that we will eradicate all terrorist organizations 
threatening our state, our nation and our territorial integrity," Yildirim 
said, reading from a message he wrote in the mausoleum's visitors' book.

   The military Council meeting was originally scheduled for the first week of 
August but was brought forward following the coup attempt. Its location was 
moved from the military headquarters to the prime minister's office in a sign 
that the government aims to place the military under stronger civilian control.

   Late Wednesday, the government issued a decree that removed the paramilitary 
police force and the coast guard from military command and placed them under 
the control of the Interior Ministry.

   Turkish officials have said they believe the coup plot was put into force in 
haste before the Council in August, when many officers suspected of links to 
Gulen would have been discharged.


(KA)

 
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