Istanbul: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a new presidential decree today that introduced sweeping changes to Turkey's military in the wake of a July 15 failed coup, bringing the armed forces further under civilian authority.
The decree, the third issued under a three-month state of emergency declared following the attempted coup, gives the president and prime minister the authority to issue direct orders to the commanders of the army, air force and navy.
It also announces the discharge of 1,389 military personnel, including Erdogan's chief military adviser, who had been arrested days after the attempted coup, the Chief of General Staff's charge d'affaires and the defense minister's chief secretary.
It puts the military commands directly under the defense ministry, puts all military hospitals under the authority of the health ministry instead of the military, and also expands the Supreme Military Council, the body that makes decisions on military affairs and appointments, to include Turkey's deputy prime ministers and its justice, foreign and interior ministers.
The document, published in the official gazette today, also shuts down all military schools, academies and non-commissioned officer training institutes and establishes a new national defense university to train officers.
In the wake of the attempted coup, which killed more than 200 people, Erdogan launched a sweeping crackdown on those believed linked to the movement of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of instigating the coup.
Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, denies any knowledge of the coup.
More than 10,000 people have been arrested in the crackdown, most of whom are military personnel. Thousands more have been detained and nearly 70,000 people have been suspended or dismissed from their jobs in the education, media, health care, military and judicial sectors.
In an interview yesterday with private A Haber television, Erdogan said he also wanted to put the country's MIT intelligence agency and the chief of general staff's headquarters under the presidency.
"If we can pass this small constitution package with (the opposition parties), then the chief of general staff and MIT will be tied to the president," Erdogan told A Haber.
The package would need to be brought to parliament for a vote. The Turkish government's sweeping crackdown has caused concern among its Western allies, who have urged restraint.
Turkey has demanded the speedy extradition of Gulen from the United States, but Washington has asked for evidence that he was involved in the attempted coup and has said the US extradition process must be allowed to take its course.