Quiet hardliner leads Turk military in testing times


From Ibon Villelabeitia, Reuters:  Turkey’s new military chief, a quiet, hardline secularist, takes command on Friday of a force that sees itself cornered by EU-driven reforms and an emboldened government with roots in political Islam.

General Isik Kosaner, who was trained as a commando officer and worked in intelligence, will be tested among other things by trials of senior military officers charged with plotting to overthrow the government and a surge in a decades-long separatist conflict in the southeast.

His appointment as chief of staff this month came at the end of several days of tension in the Supreme Military Council, a body dominated by generals but chaired by the prime minister, in which the government blocked the promotion of some top officers. …

The military, self-appointed guardians of secularism, has toppled four governments but reforms carried out as part of a bid for membership of the European Union have curbed its power. …

Kosaner’s predecessor, General Ilker Basbug, has said repeatedly that the days of coups are over.

"I don’t think there will be a conflict with the government. He’s a democrat and he will try to protect the armed forces through democratic ways," Necati Ozgen, a retired general, said of Kosaner.

He takes the top job after being promoted from land forces commander. Known as an old-school secularist, he has shied away from public statements in the past, preferring a quiet approach.  (photo: Getty)

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