Will Turkish Military survive?

Will Turkish Military survive?
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For the last three days, Turkey continued night deployment of 155mm artillery units and heavy military equipments to border province Kilis in Turkey across Syria's Afrin. It was so obvious that Erdogan has been planning to launch a military campaign against the American backed Kurdish forces in Syria for the last several months.

Just a few days ago, Turkish Government also announced their decision to induct the people who allegedly are linked to terrorist organizations if needed. This particular decision indicates that Erdogan’s battle plan may not be limited to Kurds and may not be for a short time but may extend in the region according to the circumstances.

The recent containment policy of Saudi led countries in the Gulf against Qatar was perceived as an aggressive act by Erdogan against his financial interests and assets in that country. Since President Trump openly noted this aggressive move has just started after his visit to Saudi Arabia, Erdogan might have thought U.S Government is actually after him.

It should also be remembered that when U.S Air Forces has shut down a Syrian airplane last week, it was actually a clear message to the region, especially to Russia, Syria and Turkey that U.S Government will continue to pursue his interests in Syria by backing and supporting Kurds in the region.

Therefore, it is clear that Kurdish forces in Syria are not only the best ally against ISIS but also the only left alliance that the American government can take as a strategic partner to pursue its interests. Can an anti-American Turkish Government be a partner for U.S in Syria? They already know that it’s most unlikely.

By shutting down a Syrian airplane, U.S Government actually says that they have no intention to leave Syria right now, be it with the Kurdish partnership.

When Erdogan criticized U.S Government for arming Kurdish Forces in Syria with a very harsh tone, declaring that it is a violation of NATO Treaty, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that the US military would continue to provide weapons to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) even after ousting the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) from Raqqa.

However, many experts would agree that Turkish Military probably is experiencing a worst turmoil in its history. Since the failed coup attempt last year in July 15, two third of the entire Turkish Generals were purged or arrested and 9000 thousand officers were dismissed.

According to a recent report, in addition to 9,000 already dismissed from the Turkish armed forces, “thousands of more staff” might be purged as part of investigations that were launched following the failed coup on July 15, 2016. Furthermore, while Turkish Military leadership is highly politicized and divided at least to three camps according to some analyses, can the Turkish Government reach to its military objectives in Syria and in the region? Let’s have a look at what’s happening in the Turkish Military.

The First camp which was represented by the retired Kemalist Generals who appear to have Anti-American and pro-Russia sentiments and choose mostly Mr. Dogu Perincek’s Vatan Party to express these views openly. Some assert that this camp forces the Government pick their men to promote them as Generals at the next the High Military Council on August. However, Erdogan tries to counter balance this group by re-starting the Ergenekon trial in which many of these retired generals were suspects.

Some believe that another camp is represented by the Turkish Commander-in-chief, General Hulusi Akar. Even though there are some important indications that he has an history of some right wing/ political Islamist background in his youth, many believe that he is neither pro-American or pro-Russia. Many generals who were suspects of both Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials, believe that he was personally responsible for their purges and they openly claim that they want him to pay for his betrayal. If Erdogan would decide to dismiss him on the next August, it would be a very bad news for General Akar. If Erdogan would dismiss Akar, I believe he would also face prosecutions for his alleged involvement with July 15 coup attempt.

The other camp is believed to be represented by a retired Special Forces General Adnan Tanriverdi who was demonized by the radical Kemalist generals who appear to express their views at Perincek’s Vatan Party. Tanriverdi has never hidden his Islamist views after his retirement in mid 90’s. During all these years, he helped organize thousands of purged military officers especially in 90’s and early 2000’s. Erdogan was the mayor of Istanbul at that time and I have reasons to believe that the two were actually connected in these years and probably were planning the future together. Tanriverdi was assigned as Erdogan’s Military and Security advisor after the failed coup attempt last year. This is an important indication that Erdogan most likely tends to design Turkish military with General Tanriverdi.

General Tanriverdi has a heroic background especially in Cyprus war in 1974, however, I believe he and his team known as SADAT, many of whom are retired ‘Army’ officers from the ranks ‘Major to Kernels’ may not be capable of understanding the recent trends and technologies in Military environment in the world and the rising importance of multi-domain battle perspective that could give joint force commanders a level of cross-domain integration.

The most successful and highly educated military personnel of Turkey, who used to carry the strategic experience and know-how are now gone. The one fifth of the Turkish Naval Officers who were experts on some strategic and specific military technologies are gone and it is impossible to replace them in a short time, either. Two third of the entire F-16 pilots were dismissed and some of them soon after were asked to come back since their posts were not reassigned by Turkish Air Forces.

While Erdogan wants to consolidate his power through politicizing the Turkish Military, he actually terminates it, either he is aware of it or not. If Erdogan is forcing the Turkish Military to take some serious steps in Syria against YPG and American forces, he and security team should realize that Turkish Military personnel were never frustrated and morally disturbed like this before. Their motivation is too low.

Remember that a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

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