Turkish military says doesn't want to get involved in ‘political arguments’

Turkish military says doesn't want to get involved in ‘political arguments’

PanARMENIAN.Net - Turkey's military said it does not want to get involved in "political arguments", amid a major political corruption scandal, according to BBC News.

The crisis has forced Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reshuffle his cabinet following the resignations of three ministers. The ministers' sons were among dozens of people detained as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe.

The scandal has caused Turkey's lira to fall to a new low against the dollar.

Meanwhile, the country's top administrative court has blocked a government decree ordering police to inform their superiors before launching investigations.

The government introduced the decree last week after a series of police raids on senior figures as part of the corruption inquiry.

The Council of State's ruling on Friday, Dec 27, blocking the regulation, is seen as the latest setback in Erdogan's efforts to stop the political fallout from the scandal.

The Turkish army's statement, posted on its website, comes in response to a suggestion in the media by an ally of the prime minister that the corruption scandal might be a plot to trigger a military coup.

"The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) does not want to be involved in political debates. On the other hand, the TSK will keep on closely following the developments regarding its corporate identity and the legal positions of its members," the statement said.

Turkey has a history of military takeovers but its power has been curbed during Mr Erdogan's decade in power.

Police are investigating allegations of illicit money transfers to Iran and bribery for construction projects.

On Wednesday Erdogan named 10 new ministers to join his cabinet after talks with President Abdullah Gul. One of the three ministers to resign, former Environment Minister Erdogan Bayraktar, has urged Erdogan to step down himself.

The opposition-linked Cumhuriyet newspaper reports that a charitable foundation linked to Erdogan's son Bilal is under investigation.

Numerous police and judicial officials have been removed from their posts since the first arrests 10 days ago.

On Thursday a state prosecutor said he was prevented from carrying out an investigation into corruption and had been removed from the case. In a statement, Muammar Akkas said the police had obstructed proceedings by failing to carry out some arrests that he had ordered.

Istanbul's Chief Prosecutor, Turhan Colakkadi, said Akkas had been removed from his position for leaking information to the media.

Commentators in Turkey believe the scandal stems from a power struggle between Erdogan's government and an influential U.S.-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who is said to have many followers within Turkey's police and judiciary.

Supporters regard the Hizmet movement inspired by Gulen as the benign, modern face of Islam, but critics question its motives.

Gulen, who has denied any involvement in the investigation, left Turkey in 1999 after being accused by the then government of plotting to establish an Islamic state. He was cleared of that charge but has never returned to Turkey and now lives in Pennsylvania.

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