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Erdogan is taking full control of the military himself

The Turkish president isn't done cracking down on the armed forces for the failed coup attempt, and now wants civilians to control them.
El presidente turco estrecha la mano de un hombre de seguridad en una visita a la sede de las fuerzas especiales de la policía, en Ankara, Turquía, el 29 de julio de 2016. Imagen por oficina de prensa presidencial de turquía/EPA

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan assumed full control over the country's armed services on Sunday, with a decree designed to help him consolidate power in the wake of the failed military coup earlier this month.

The decree gives Erdogan and prime minister Binali Yildrim the power to issue direct orders to army, navy and air force commanders. Military academies will be closed and replaced with a national defense university, with the idea of bringing the armed forces fully under civilian control. The coup that failed between July 15 and 16 was the fifth intervention by the military in government since 1960.


The crackdown also brings under the president's control the country's intelligence service, which is accused of having missed signs of the impending coup.

"We are going to introduce a small constitutional package (to parliament) which, if approved, will bring the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and chief of staff under the control of the presidency," Erdogan said on Sunday during an interview with Haber TV.

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There was also a major shake-up within the structure of Turkey's armed services. Erdogan fired almost 1,400 members of the armed services for their suspected ties to Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, Erdogan's arch-nemesis, whom he accuses of masterminding the failed attempt to overthrow his leadership.

He also announced that commanders on the supreme military council (YAS) will be replaced by government ministers – a move which could potentially affect the conflicts that Turkey is involved in, against Kurdish militants in the country's southeast and against the Islamic State.

The latest mass dismissal of soldiers follows weeks of a sweeping purges. Last week, more than 1,700 members of the armed services were discharged for their alleged role in the coup attempt.

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Erdogan's heavy-handed response to the coup attempt has drawn criticism from his western allies. More than 60,000 Turks from the military, judiciary, academia and civil service have been caught in the dragnet so far, being detained, dismissed from their position or placed under investigation, again over their suspected links to Gulen.

Erdogan has continued his calls for the US to extradite Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania in self-imposed exile.

At least 246 people were killed and 2,000 injured in the coup attempt, as Erdogan called on Turks to go into the streets and defend the government from insurgent soldiers. After a night of blood and chaos, the coup failed and Erdogan made a defiant speech in Istanbul, in which he condemned the "act of treason and rebellion."