Turkey detained ten retired admirals on Monday, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of a new coup following a letter signed by more than 100 retired admirals warning about a possible threat to a treaty governing the use of Turkey’s key waterways.
The Ankara chief public prosecutor’s office said arrest warrants have been issued for the ten men. Prosecutors also ordered four other suspects to report to Ankara police within three days, opting not to detain them because of their age.
The development comes one day after the letter was sharply condemned by the government, which said the move is “reminiscent of coup times” in Turkey’s past.
Admirals question Erdogan’s project
Turkey’s approval last month of plans to develop a shipping canal in Istanbul comparable to the Panama or Suez canals has opened up debate about the 1936 Montreux Convention.
The admirals said in their letter that apart from its environmental impact, the new canal venture could undermine the Montreux accord.
The convention guarantees the free passage through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits of civilian vessels in times of both peace and war.
It also regulates the use of the strait by military vessels from non-Black Sea nations.
The proposed canal would allow ships to transit between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea without passing through part of the straits that are covered by the treaty.
Turkey warns of a coup following letter
The declaration has drawn strong reactions from the government and officials.
Presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın said the statement is “reminiscent of coup periods” and made the former Navy men “a laughingstock.”
“Know your place and stay where you are,” he added.
“These retirees, who’ve not been seen for years, are creating chaos with their agendas,” Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop charged.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said the admirals should not use their ranks and uniforms as a means to push their political rhetoric.
2016 Turkey coup
On July 15, 2016 a coup attempt against Erdogan was carried out by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces which had organized themselves as the Peace at Home Council.
They attempted to seize control of several places in Ankara, Istanbul, Marmaris and elsewhere, such as the Asian side entrance of the Bosphorus Bridge, but failed to do so after forces loyal to the state defeated them.
The Council cited an erosion of secularism, elimination of democratic rule, disregard for human rights, and Turkey’s loss of credibility in the international arena as reasons for the coup.
The government said the coup leaders were linked to the Gülen movement, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the Republic of Turkey and led by Fethullah Gülen.
Over 300 people were killed during the coup attempt and thousands were detained.