Report: Turkey Expected to Appoint Military Chief to Focus More on ISIS

AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici
AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

The general who presides over the Turkish armed forces is expected to be replaced by the current commander of land forces, who is expected to be more hawkish in combating the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), reports Al Monitor.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the retiring Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Ozel, appointed to his position in 2011, is expected to be succeeded by Gen. Hulusi Akar, the current commander of Akar as part of an upcoming shakeup in the leadership of the Turkish armed forces (TSK).

“In combating terror, Akar is expected to be more hawkish than Ozel, and that just may make him the kind of chief of staff [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan wants,” notes Al Monitor. “Akar pays a great deal of attention to combating IS. Given his close ties with the United States and NATO, the TSK will focus more on combating IS.”

Decisions related to the Turkish military overhaul, expected to be made by the Hight Military Council (HMC) under Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu leadership on Aug. 3-5, are considered specially important this year, notes Al Monitory.

There are various reasons for that, particularly the political unrest that has been afflicting Turkey since the June 7 general elections and the country’s involvement in a two-front battle against the terrorist groups ISIS and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Security has reportedly taken precedence over all other considerations in the country.

“Although the annual August meetings of the HMC are always followed with some interest, this year’s attention is phenomenal, as the positions to be adopted by the new command will also affect the political wrangling in Ankara,” reports Al Monitor.

The augmented influence of this year’s meeting may be the reason why President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly told Davutoglu, “We will go to the HMC as the [Justice and Development Party] AKP government.”

“One educated guess is that Erdogan has delayed the haggling over a new government to give the AKP the chance to dominate the [military council] and shape the [Turkish armed forces] command as a single ruling party and not as a coalition government,” points out Al Monitor. “Erdogan has experience in managing the HMC meetings and getting his demands adopted. His influence will be greater now as president of the republic.”

The prospective top commander of the Turkish military, Gen. Ankar, is credited with being an analytic thinker, tolerant of views different from his own, aware of world affairs, and having extensive NATO experience.

“He is known for being keen on the Western security alliance and transatlantic relations. During this 2011-2013 tenure as the deputy chief of general staff, Akar worked on many radical reforms in the TSK,” reports Al Monitor. “But he is also known for tough management of his command and a hawkish attitude toward cross-border smuggling, anti-terror operations and border security.”