The demotion, then the resignation of rear admiral Cihat Yayci, known to have been the architect of Ankara's military engagement in Libya, created a shock wave in Turkey, where relations between the army and the power Civilians have experienced many reversals in recent years. Popular in nationalist circles, Cihat Yayci, 54, has held the post of Chief of Staff of the Turkish Navy since 2017. Her career so far seemed to be on the rise. The presidential decree signed Friday May 15 at 3 a.m., just after the night prayer, put an end to his career hopes. With a stroke of the pen, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed him from his position as Chief of the Naval Staff to pay him to the General Staff, without further details on the functions than he was supposed to exercise there.
Believing himself to be unfairly punished, Mr. Yayci resigned three days later. In his letter of resignation, made public on May 18, he explains that he cannot accept his new appointment, evokes "Lies and slander" and concludes to "A plot" hatched against his person.
This allusion to "Conspiracy" is all the more disturbing as the rear admiral was among those who sided with President Erdogan during the failed coup in July 2016, whose paternity was attributed to preacher Fethullah Gülen, a former ally of the number a Turk, who has since become his bane. A fervent supporter of Mr. Erdogan, a sworn enemy of Gülen, Mr. Yayci had developed a special technique for identifying alleged imam followers in the army. Thanks to this system called "FETÖmeter" (the term FETÖ designating the "Terrorist gülenists"), tens of thousands of soldiers were dismissed and thrown into prison because of their alleged involvement in the failed 2016 coup.
Above all, the rear admiral stood out as the architect of the maritime demarcation pact that the Turkish president signed on November 27, 2019 with Faïez Sarraj, the head of the Libyan government recognized by the UN. Controversial, the pact provides Turkey with access to economic areas claimed by Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.
The news of his resignation had the effect of a bomb, attracting strong criticism including in the pro-government press. On social media, fans of the Islamist-conservative government have gone so far as to call the Turkish number one to reverse its decision. The sanction is all the more surprising since it comes at a time when Ankara's military engagement in Libya seems to be bearing fruit, Turkish drones having recently inflicted serious reverses on dissident marshal Haftar, the protege of Moscow in the Libyan conflict.
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