A group of Turkish generals have twice refused to bow down to pressure exerted by Turkey’s defence minister ahead of the country’s critical 14 May polls, a veteran Turkish journalist said on Monday.
Can Ataklı, a well-known name in the Turkish media, said in his YouTube channel that the first incident was during a ceremony in January in a defence industry facility at the Ministry of Defence.
Generals of Turkish military, including the army’s chief of staff and the head of its land forces, attended the ceremony in which the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attacked the leader of the Republican People’s Party, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, by saying that he begged money from foreign countries, while the Turkish government continued to develop a national industry based on domestic human resource.
Following the ceremony, Kılıçdaroğlu on Twitter criticised Erdoğan and the generals who had applauded Erdoğan’s speech.
“Erdoğan, stop whopping. You made soldiers clap your slanders about me,” he said.
“I once again call on the those in the command echelon; if you want to do politics, you cannot do it with that sacred uniform. I will not allow it. You are soldiers of Turkey, added Kılıçdaroğlu.
According to Ataklı, Turkey’s defence minister Hulusi Akar gathered the generals together afterwards and requested that they file lawsuits against Kılıçdaroğlu, claiming that the opposition leader insulted them.
“Sir, that day we also listened to that speech, your speech, our president’s speech, his words against Kılıçdaroğlu, and Kılıçdaroğlu’s words, but there is no reason to file lawsuits in that situation,” Ataklı quoted the generals as saying.
Ataklı added that Akar had angrily replied: “Then you will bear the consequences.”
As a response, the heads of the main forces in the Turkish military told the defence minister that they would resign, a move unexpected by Akar, according to Ataklı.
Ataklı said the tension between the minister and the military’s top commanders was later calmed by Erdoğan.
In another incident, Akar had gathered the generals and asked them their opinions about upcoming 14 May polls, in which Kılıçdaroğlu will challenge Erdoğan in the presidential race, and the events that may unfold on election night.
Akar’s move was an example of the government’s plans to create chaos if it loses the polls on Sunday, the journalist said.
“We do what the will of the people says,” Ataklı quoted the commanders’ response to the minister.
“It means saying, if you lose, do not trust me to reverse the result when you lose, I will not be there at that moment,” Ataklı said, interpreting the generals’ response.
“I think this is the most significant statement as we head elections this week,” the veteran journalist added.