Following the decisions announced at the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) on Aug. 1, five generals serving in the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) had resigned. The fact that Major General Ahmet Ercan Çorbacı and his assistant Brigadier General Ertuğrul Sağlam, who were assigned to the command responsible of Syria’s Idlib from the Special Forces Command, were among those who resigned resulted in various criticisms. The criticisms were at first limited to the “civilian-military balance being upset in favor of civilians” and that “qualifications had been disregarded in some promotions and appointments.”
Some security experts then targeted Turkey’s National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. According to these experts, “Three of the five generals who resigned were assigned to units active in Syria. This not only shows that the dust hasn’t settled in the armed forces and that there’s a resistance against Akar but that Syria is perceived by Turkish generals as career-suicide.”
Akar responded to criticisms by saying: “Retirement is only the natural right of members of the TAF. When is this possible? During the months of January-February and July-August. In this sense, our friends can retire after their services are completed or in line with their wishes and wills during service. This is only natural. So far, two of our members have petitioned, and we approved their retirement. We wish them success in their new life and thank them for their valuable services. I’m sure that our members assigned to these missions will work hard for these services to move forward. The Turkish armed forces is a whole entity. The mission never ceases in the TAF, it always moves forward.”
Maj. Gen Çorbacı, who also asked to retire from the TAF, stating that his resignation had nothing to do with the reassignment decided at the council meeting said:
“There’s no rebelling against duty. We are soldiers ultimately. We have also proven ourselves on these missions. It’s as if we are running from terror and a fight; this is the impression that is trying to be given. This would be a great injustice to us. Up until today I have maintained my mission that I started as a lieutenant in the Kayseri Command Brigade on the mountains. I turn over my missions to Ertuğrul Erkaban, with whom I have previously worked.”
Like Defense Minister Akar and major general Çorbacı stated, it is the natural right of soldiers and civilians who have served for a certain amount of years to retire.
However the problem is that the four generals who asked to retire along with Maj. Gen. Çorbacı is that they requested it after the council meeting, not before.
The fact that three generals quit after being assigned to Syria and Idlib and two others after being assigned to eastern and southeastern Turkey isn’t ethical on a trajectory where Turkey is successfully fighting against the PKK/YPG, which is backed by global powers, and other terror groups in Syria and Iraq.
No doubt, these resignations are personal and they will not affect the TAF’s fight against terror, but on a trajectory where Turkey has turned its attention to the east of the Euphrates River and the Mediterranean, the resignation of a commander who was appointed to Idlib only gives fodder to internal and foreign enemies who want to create a tainted impression of Turkey.
The claims that the soldier-civilian balance has been disrupted in the Supreme Military Council in favor of civilians will no doubt be probed by the authorities.
However, the latest situation in the Supreme military Council points to a Turkey that is free from tutelage structures.
The assignments of the generals who resigned following the meeting have nothing to do with demotions.
They were all assigned critical and significant roles.
The claims that many qualified soldiers were not promoted or made to retire are also untrue. The army is currently in complete support of Turkey’s Syria policy. Similar to the years the state was in the hands of the TAF, the necessary precautions are being taken against infiltration by FETÖ or similar structures.
As President Erdoğan gave Akar the order to purge the Turkish Armed Forces of FETÖ terrorists, there is no doubt that taking precautions against other types of infiltration is essential in terms of our national security.