Turkey army issues warning after ’’coup plot’’ arrests

Turkey army issues warning after ’’coup plot’’ arrests
# 23 February 2010 19:36 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Turkey’s army has warned of a "serious" situation after 40 senior military figures were arrested over an alleged plot to topple the government, APA reports citing BBC.

All top generals and admirals met at the military headquarters to evaluate the investigation, the military said. Police were questioning the suspects over the so-called "sledgehammer" plot which reportedly dates back to 2003.

Former heads of the air force and navy were among those detained in raids in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. The men arrested include the former air force chief Ibrahim Firtina, former navy chief Ozden Ornek, and several other generals and colonels, both serving and retired, Turkish media outlets reported.

General Ilker Basbug, the head of the army, dismissed the allegations, insisting coups in Turkey are a thing of the past. The army has overthrown or forced the resignation of four governments since 1960 - the last time in 1997.

The investigation follows reports published in the liberal Taraf newspaper, which said it had discovered documents detailing a 2003 plot to bomb two Istanbul mosques and provoke Greece into shooting down a Turkish plane over the Aegean Sea. The aim of the operation was allegedly to undermine the Turkish government and justify a coup.

The army has said the plans were actually part of a planning exercise at a military seminar, and not a coup plot.

The alleged plot is similar, and possibly linked, to the reported Ergenekon conspiracy, in which military figures and other staunch secularists allegedly planned to foment unrest, leading to a coup.

Dozens of people are already on trial in connection with that case.

Many Turks regard the cases as the latest stage in an ongoing power struggle between Turkey’s secular nationalist establishment and the governing AK Party.

The AK Party has its roots in political Islam, and is accused by some nationalists of having secret plans to turn staunchly secular Turkey into an Islamic state.
The government rejects those claims, saying its intention is to modernise Turkey and move it closer to European Union membership.