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Decree tightens civilian control over Turkish military

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Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waved Turkish flags during an anti-coup rally at Taksim Square in central Istanbul on Saturday. Erdogan issued a new presidential decree Sunday 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.Petros Karadjias

ISTANBUL — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a new presidential decree Sunday that introduced sweeping changes to Turkey's military in the wake of a failed coup July 15, bringing the armed forces further under civilian authority.

The decree, the third issued under a three-month state of emergency declared after 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.


The presidential decree puts the military commands directly under the defense ministry, puts all military hospitals under the authority of the health ministry, 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 Sunday, also shuts down all military schools, academies, and noncommissioned officer training institutes and establishes a new national defense university to train officers.

On Sunday afternoon, thousands held an anti-coup rally in the German city of Cologne, waving Turkish flags and holding banners with Erdogan's picture.

In the wake of the attempted coup, during which more than 200 people were killed, 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 attempt to overthrow the government.

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. On Sunday, Turkey's soccer federation said every member of its committees had tendered their resignations ''for the well-being of the ongoing security investigation.''


In an interview Saturday 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 . . . 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.

Turkey has demanded the speedy extradition of Gulen from the United States, but Washington has asked for evidence he was involved in the attempted coup and says the US extradition process must be allowed to take its course.