In a move to foil attempts aimed at dragging the Turkish military into politics, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has strongly denied a news report published in the pro-government Akşam daily on Friday claiming that there are 40 senior military officers who are linked with the so-called “parallel structure.”
The “parallel state” or “parallel structure” is a phrase often used by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and its supporters to refer to the faith-based Hizmet movement inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, ever since the government declared war on Hizmet last year.
In its main story on Friday, titled “40 parallel pashas in the General Staff,” Akşam claimed that a special team which was established after an order from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to uncover members of the “parallel structure” in the TSK, has found out that 40 senior TSK officers -- including 20 brigadier generals, five admirals, five regional commanders and one force commander -- have links with the “parallel organization.”
Akşam did not mention specific names, but the high-ranking officers will allegedly be sacked from the TSK at the next biannual Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting, which is scheduled for August.
The daily did not provide any details as to how the links between the 40 high-ranking officers and the Hizmet movement have been confirmed by the prime minister's special team. The daily said the investigation team, following three months of work, has found that 50 percent of TSK officers have links with the “parallel structure,” adding that the military judiciary is nearly under total control of the “parallel structure.”
In a statement released on Saturday, the TSK slammed Akşam's report, saying that “claims and comments aimed to create a negative perception about the institutional identity of the TSK and its members do not have any legal, humanitarian or moral basis. ... No concrete legal information or documents have reached the TSK from official intelligence bodies so far in order to investigate the claims put forward and make the necessary administrative and judicial investigations.”
The statement said the TSK is a constitutional institution performing the tasks given to it, it is under the service of the Turkish nation and the state and it acts only in compliance with laws and government directives.
The statement also said legal action will be taken against those who engage in defamatory news coverage of the TSK.
In addition to the TSK, the Presidency also denied Akşam's report in a statement issued from the press office of the Presidency on Friday. The statement said President Abdullah Gül has described the news report about the TSK's commanders and high-ranking officers as “an example of extreme irresponsibility” and he was deeply saddened by it.
“The president considers that at a time when extraordinary developments are taking place in this region, there is a need for increased sensitivity in reports on the TSK, which is the guaranty of our national interests,” the statement said.
Another statement of denial for Akşam's report came from the Prime Ministry on Saturday, which said the claims in Akşam's report do not reflect facts. “The claim which appeared in a newspaper [on Friday] suggesting a special team has been established on orders from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to investigate claims about infiltration attempts in the TSK has no basis in fact,” the statement said.
The Prime Ministry's statement further noted that the action that is taken against attempts to establish a secret structure in state agencies including the TSK has been set by laws in Turkey, which is a democratic state, and called on media organs to be more sensitive about their reports on state agencies so as not to create any wrong perceptions.
The Hizmet movement promotes interfaith dialogue and the resolution of problems through peaceful methods all over the world. However, Prime Minister Erdoğan's AK Party has been at odds with Hizmet, especially since Dec. 17, 2013, when a major government graft operation implicating senior government members became public. The prime minister claims the operation was orchestrated by the Hizmet movement with the motive of overthrowing his AK Party government. Erdoğan has not provided any evidence to prove his claim, and movement denies the accusation.
Published on Cihan, 30 June 2014, Monday