Jul 11 2018

Retired admiral hits out at new defence minister Hulusi Akar

Retired Vice-Admiral of the Turkish Navy Atilla Kıyat has sent a biting “congratulatory message” to Hulusi Akar, the former Chief of Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces who was named as the Minister of Defence in the first cabinet under the new presidential system on Monday.

“I agree with the president that nobody is better suited than you to this position … Another reason for my happiness is that you will no longer be wearing the uniform,” said Kıyat in a message shared on social media this week.

The retired officer went on to list six of what he characterises as severe shortcomings of Akar’s over his time as chief of staff, a period which included the foiled Jul. 15 2016 coup attempt, which was perpetrated by factions within the Turkish armed forces.

The “dark day” of the coup attempt “perpetrated by thousands of traitors who were under your command” is the first in Kıyat’s lit of six “influential factors in your selection (as defence minister),” while the fact they held him hostage during the attempt is the second on the list.

Kıyat also took grave exception to the closure, under Akar’s watch, of military academies and high schools as part of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s crackdown against the military in the wake of the coup attempt, and to the expulsion of thousands of the schools’ students without trial.

Hundreds of cadets have been imprisoned for taking part in the coup attempt. The cadets and their families say they were duped into participating in what their commanding officers told them were training exercises – another of the subjects Kıyat castigates Akar for.

Erdoğan has announced that he will establish a national defence university to replace the historic academies.

Military hospitals have also been closed during Akar’s time in command. Kıyat criticised his passivity in allowing their closure.

The vice admiral had previously taken Akar to task for his visit to former Turkish President Abdullah Gül during the run-up to the Jun. 24 presidential and parliamentary elections.

Gül, an important figure in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) from its foundation, had been touted as a potential consensus candidate to represent a diverse opposition. Akar arrived in a military helicopter to pay a high-profile visit to Gül that many interpreted as a warning not to run. Gül did not.

“I waited, even prayed for days (that the visit) would be denied, but it wasn’t. Unfortunately, it was true; Akar visited Gül. Shame on you,” news site T24 quoted Kıyat saying.