Vocal Europe news site has published an interview based on an extensive, full of inquiries and recorded conversation with five former Turkish Senior Officers, from Armed Forces, Air Forces and Navy, who served at SHAPE and NATO Headquarters in Belgium and who were purged after the attempted coup on 15 July last year.
The interview gives place to the five officers' opinions on the coup attempt of 15th July 2015, and confessions on the situation of the Turkish army. The officers state that the Turkish army has been suffering heavy losses, and hold Erdoğan's supporters responsible for the deadlock with regard to the Kurdish question.
"EUPHRATES SHIELD WAS A MESS IN THE END”
The officers stated that the Turkish government, a couple of weeks after 15th of July, intervened in Syria just to show to the public that "we have a strong military” and to keep this narrative, saying; "The result was loss of lives of comrades and military equipment. Even the Operation Euphrates Shield was captured as a great success at pro-Erdogan media, with Erdoganist generals commanding the whole operation without a real understanding of strategic context and operational planning; it was a mess in the end. Sadly, this massive purge will have long term implications for the Turkish military, as the gap in human resources cannot be fixed on short term. Can you imagine a NATO army waiting for orders where it does not have people with required experience in the command chain?”
"MANY DIED DUE TO THE GOVERNMENT'S MISTAKES ON THE KURDISH ISSUE”
The officers continued; "It should be said as well that there was a massive resentment among the public and the armed forces against President Erdogan due to the failing of the Kurdish peace process and particularly due to the developments that happened afterwards. Lots of people have died, because of the mistakes committed by the government in handling the Kurdish issue.”
The officers claimed that those purged generals and offices had liberal visions to solve long-awaited Kurdish issue, they believed in democratic ways for solving this issue rather than using military might.”
"PRO-ERDOĞAN GENERALS COMMANDED THE OPERATIONS IN THE KURDISH REGION”
"I personally remember one of the jailed and tortured top brass begging Army Command to stop shelling Sur in Diyarbakir because of civilian losses. Sadly, pro-Erdogan generals commanded those operations in Diyarbakir and Sirnak.”
According to the officers, if the purged generals – almost half of the total number of Turkish generals – 160 out of 324 – would have been involved in the planning, command and execution of the coup, they would have succeeded.
"NATO WILL HAVE A MEMBER ARMY FULL OF EXTREMISTS AND SALAFISTS”
The officers pointed out another crucial development; that all those AK Party linked Islamists who were isolated from military many years ago are now being re-nominated to critical positions in the Army. They said: "Many of these people are now in charge of selection committees of armed forces where newcomers are asked about whether they pray five times a day and they are even asked the prayer. More importantly, if you have a recommendation letter from any AKP’s official, you get the job without being checked whether you fit to the description of the vacancy. This will certainly have a tremendous negative impact on the Army. And if the current setting will continue, we think that NATO will have, in two or four years, a member Army full of extremists and Salafists.”
"ERDOĞAN KILLS THE IDEA OF DEMOCRATIC SOLUTION TO THE KURDISH ISSUE”
Regarding the Trump administration’s decision to supply heavy weapons to the YPG, the Turkish officers stated that Erdogan’s criticism against this decision of Trump administration to supply PYD with heavy weapons was very moderate, and would have been different had it been the Obama Administration.
The officers said: "But YPG is part of Turkey’s Kurdish issue as well. Many of the purged generals and officers whom we know – and whom are currently arrested or dismissed – have very liberal ideas; they are supportive of the approach in taking new steps for a viable solution of the Kurdish issue. They tried to stop pro-Erdogan generals from conducting operations that targeted innocent people, women and children in the South East of Turkey. When seeing so many areas, villages and cities destroyed by artilleries… this was just heartbreaking. All these places ruined just because their residents were Kurds. The remaining generals and top brass are hardliners with regard to the Kurdish issue. Hence, President Erdogan did purge not only the officers who wanted to solve the Kurdish issue in a peaceful way, but he also kills the idea of solving the Kurdish issue in a democratic way.”