Turkey’s Higher Military Council (YAS) met under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Aug. 1 to make decisions on promotions of generals and admirals. Their choices provide important clues about the likely direction of US-Turkish relations.
Until some five or six years ago, the Turkish public would have been enthralled by a YAS meeting, held twice a year. The possible outcomes would have been debated for days on end. This year, however, the meeting lasted less than half a day instead of the typical three. On top of that, the decisions taken will significantly affect the organizational structure of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the country’s sensitive civilian-military relations.
The chief of the General Staff and commanders of the air force, navy and land forces all retained their jobs. This signifies that Defense Minister Hulusi Akar’s control over the TSK command is secure, as they had been appointed by him at the previous YAS meeting. Over the past three years, Akar has thus succeeded in establishing himself as central to civilian-military relations in Turkey.
In 2016, there had been 16 four-star generals in the TSK, now there are only seven. No lieutenant general or vice admiral was promoted to four-star status at the YAS meeting. The number of generals and admirals stood at 241 before the YAS meeting, after which they numbered 233. All told, 47 of them have been retired, and some of the newly vacant positions are yet to be filled.
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