SADAT CHAIRMAN ADNAN TANRIVERDİ: ARMED ORGANIZATIONS FOR CIVILIANS ARE DANGEROUS AND UNACCEPTABLE
‘SADAT HAS NO ACTIVITY IN TURKEY’
Spot: The claim that we're forming militias or having armed training camps is completely defamatory! I am totally against such an idea! The formation of the party's armed forces or armed militias is extremely wrong. I am totally against the idea of armed militants other than the official armed force of the state. In addition, our President takes his decisions regarding current events through official committees. Advisors cannot influence the decisions.
I am also surprised by these claims, sometimes I even say “What could we have done”! To be honest, it makes me laugh... Such a thing is not possible. No such thing. We wanted to convey the experiences of our armed forces to Islamic countries with intemerate feelings. That’s all... We also want Islamic countries to be united, this is our main goal...
What is SADAT exactly? What was the founding purpose? There is a lot of speculation about it...
In July 1996, I was about to complete my fourth year as brigadier general. I was at the Land Forces Health Department. The Serbian-Bosnian War had just ended. In order to support the Turkish unity in Bosnia and the Bosnian administration, groups consisting generals were formed by the General Staff and visited Bosnia. I was in one of the groups too. Our group leader was Lieutenant General Çetin Doğan, then Chief of General Staff Operations. During the seven-hour flight by military aircraft, General Çetin Doğan told an incident. An official from a US Special Defense Consultancy Company named MPRI “Military Professional Resources Incorporated” came to the Chief of General Staff and requested that an active-service officer from the Turkish Armed Forces be assigned to their company. When asked about his quality, they said it did not matter. The Turkish General Staff appointed an officer to work in that company. It was learned later that this company had previously offered to the late Izzet Begovic to establish, train, equip, and deliver the Bosnian Army to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Begovic said, “If Turkey accepts, it is okay.” As a result, the company established the Bosnian Army mainly with armored units and delivered it to Bosnia and Herzegovina. When we arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we saw that the country is completely rugged, wooded and unfit for the operation of established armored units. This had a great impact on me. It was the years when Private Defense Consultancy Companies were just starting out. One month after I returned from the trip, I have been retired due to lack of staff cadre. I started doing research on these companies. Finally, I found and read the 400-page book titled “Corporate Warriors-Private Military Companies” by Peter Waren Singer, which was published in 2009. I was the Chairman of ASDER at that time. In the book, he talked about all the activities of the MPRI Company and the three Special Defense Consultancy Companies around the world, as well as the activities of each of the 70 US Companies in which countries in a few paragraphs. At the time, the United States had five separate defense consultancy companies in Saudi Arabia. Their capital is more than 5 million dollars and they have close to 1,500 retired military personnel. The military advisory committee of approximately 5-6 thousand people operates in close proximity to the decision makers of Saudi Arabia. I came to the conclusion that with such activity, Saudi Arabia or any other country could not take any step without the permission of the USA.
According to the information at the time the book was written, for example, in Saudi Arabia, a company called VINNELL provides training and consultancy services to the “Saudi Arabian National Guard”, which protects the regime by supporting strategic positions. BDM Company provides logistics, training, intelligence, consultancy and operations services to the Saudi Arabian Army and Air Forces. The Booz-Allen Hamilton Company trains and manages the War Colleges. SAIC Company provides support services to the navy and air defense. The O'Gara Company provides services to protect the Royal family, provide training, counterterrorism and urban area warfare training to local security forces. While there are 70 Private Defense Consultancy Companies serving under the control of the US Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was considered that it would not be possible for the countries that these companies serve to act against the will of the USA.
When you realized that, did you say, “We should establish such a company”?
Of course. After the World War II, it is understood that Islamic countries needed the support of countries with a long-established military tradition. Turkey has also a long-established military tradition. They use this reason to exploit. Therefore, a thought emerged as “Let's organize our retired soldiers to help these countries for their self-reliance”. Under the control of our state, the Muslim countries “formerly” in Ottoman geography should have been given the service they needed. In providing this service, these companies should also be an instrument of our country's foreign policy. We consulted for a solution with ASDER members and established SADAT International Defense Consultancy Construction Industry and Trade Inc. on February 28, 2012. Its establishment also took long time, it was not easy to explain this idea to the bureaucracy and political will.
‘THE ALLEGATIONS ARE COMPLETELY DEFAMATORY!’
There are critical allegations about SADAT. The most striking of these was that IYI Party Leader Meral Akşener said that there were armed training camps in cities of Tokat and Konya. Ümit Özdağ continued this claim, saying that “there are armed training camps in 7 cities including Kocaeli” and implying that they are related to SADAT. Do you have armed training camps in Turkey? What do you think of these allegations?
It is pure slander, fictitious! This has nothing to do with SADAT. We have no training facilities. Ümit Özdağ said this in July 2017. In 2012, a newspaper made these allegations. We filed a rebuttal case against that newspaper and we won. They perceived a propaganda report published in the United States as real to reinforce the claim of a “controlled coup” and to undermine our President. It is unbecoming of a political person to make such a grave claim to the state. Of course, the outcome will be determined by the judiciary.
You stated on your website that you do not provide training for individuals. But let me ask it anyway, do you provide military training for civilians?
Such unfounded allegations have been perpetuated since the establishment of SADAT. In fact, if anyone carefully examine our legislation, what SADAT serves will be understood easily. In accordance with our founding purpose, we take the state organs of friendly countries as interlocutors and provide consultancy, training and ordnance services on an institutional basis in accordance with their own legal regulations. Attributions other than this are baseless and slanderous...
THEY COME TO ME AND SAY ‘LET'S PROTECT THE PRESIDENT WITH WEAPONS’
What do you think about the military formations targeting civilians such as the People's Special Operations/Halk Özel Harekât (HÖH)?
I repudiate HÖH. I do not know if it is in the process of military formation or not. But any kind of civil armed organization is dangerous, not necessary, not appropriate. These kinds of organizations are uncontrollable. State security forces are sufficient.
In that sense, you do not agree with structures like HÖH, do you?
Civil armed organizations cannot be considered as a movement that will be rewarded or approved. Are there no extremist people; of course, there are. They come to me and say ‘Let’s protect the president with weapons. When I ask why they want such a thing, they say that the Turkish Armed Forces cannot be trusted. And I ask, “how will you be trusted?” They think that I am militaristic, too. When you notice, the man has a psychological problem or something missing, a normal person would not think like that! (Laughs) They made very illusive news about us. They came in here and asked, “You are the center of counterguerrilla, are you?” They laughed when I said, "Do you see anything like that when you look at me?" The next day, the news came out as “Islamic gladio center”. This time, they asked, “Sir, you are an Islamic gladio center, is it true?” I said “There are 60 Islamic countries and I have my organization in each of them. I am giving orders, these states are making a coup, they are coming to power and they are taking orders from me” When I told this, they laughed again. But unfortunately, they continued to produce such news!
So, how did you get promoted to Advisory of Presidency? How did you meet Tayyip Erdoğan?
I met our President, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in 1994, when they were nominated for the mayorship of Istanbul and I was the Brigade Commander in Maltepe, Istanbul. Samandıra's Town President came to visit us in Maltepe Barracks, together with Mr. Mehmet Sekmen. This visit led to friendship over time. I had the opportunity to get to know them better during and after the difficult days of February 28 Post-Modern coup process. We consulted on issues I had expertise in when they needed to. During this time, I have seen that his achievements in politics and in state administration clearly have the qualities of courage, foresight, consultation and determination, which are the most important of his leadership qualities. After the treacherous coup attempt on 15 July 2016, I was invited to be the Chief Advisor to the President. I accepted the invitation and started to work.
'THEY ARE EXAGGERATING SADAT'
Last week, we saw you sitting next to National Intelligence Organization Undersecretary Hakan Fidan at the "Security Summit" chaired by President Erdoğan on the subject of operation to Afrin. For what purpose were you invited to that meeting? As being the founder of SADAT?
I attend the “Security Summit” as the chief advisor of our President on the subject of “Security Policies”. For this reason, I attended the summit on subject of Afrin. We have no de facto connection with the National Intelligence Organization Undersecretariat.
Well, does the government, the AK Party or the Presidency have official or unofficial financial support for SADAT?
No, we did not get any support. Such a company was established for the first time in Turkey. When it was established, everyone looked at it saying, “How come?” In fact, when we sent the company’s articles of association to the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, the lady who read it dropped it from her hands. When the lady said, “Where do you get this authority from!?”, we said, “Which law prevents this. We are establishing this company according to the company act”. From there these papers went to the Ministry of Commerce, then to the Ministry of Defense, then to the General Staff. It brisked them. As a matter of fact, the deputy prime minister of that time called us and said, “Oh General, you are building armies and producing weapons. Do not we have the Armed Forces? I also talked about Bosnia issue. They have listened to us. When they listened to us, “This is a great weight on my back. I am not establishing this company in order to make money after the age of 70. In return for my experience, I set this company up for a mission. However, if you say ‘this is an illusion that you believe. As a state, we will get through all of this. Our armed forces stand against those 70 companies’ I said I would leave this burden to your back, I will walk out through the door with peace of mind”. Then, they understood that there is a need in this issue. They have conducted investigations. They are continuously following our works. We do not have anything illegal.
Who was the deputy prime minister that you have talked to?
He was the deputy prime minister appointed by our President at the time. They have called us. We went there. Three advisors from different ministries attended the meeting and Mr. Bülent Arınç was also there. When he asked his advisors, “Is there such a thing in our state tradition?” they replied, “No.” Then, when he turned to me, I said that I have military service background. There are 70 defense companies in the world. I offered, “Let us establish, control, and even increase the number of such companies as an instrument of our foreign policy.” Of course, the state bureaucracy did not accept this quickly, and they said, “You are outside the scope of the Law No. 5201 and 5202, Security Laws of Defense Industry Production, because you are not a producing company.” Therefore, as company we said, “We do not do anything in Turkey. We provide services in accordance with the laws of the countries we serve.” We do not have any service in Turkey. We want such companies to provide the training to be received by the members of the armed forces of those countries, to have training subjects for this and the Ministry of National Defense to control it, but the laws do not allow it. We have proposed amendments to two laws to “form a defense industry service sector in Turkey”. After those proposals were made, SADAT may establish facilities there to provide international training. But for now, there is no such thing.
So, you cannot provide training service to foreigners in Turkey because there is no legal basis for this?
Unfortunately, we cannot.
Are you affiliated with the AK Party?
I am just supporting AK Party as a voter with my whole heart. I am not member of Party.
After July 15, there was a restructuring in the army. Have you had any recommendations in this new restructuring of the army, and to what extent were there developments in line with those recommendations?
I have been serving as advisor since August 15. But I have studies and articles for the new Constitution since 2012. I defend the idea that “Internal security and external defense must be separated.” Our defense concept should be “Threat detection beyond borders and elimination beyond borders”. That is why our armed forces should only be tasked with preventing external threats. The issue of internal security should also be handled by our internal security personnel, namely the law enforcement and gendarmerie. Internal security requires the application of domestic law. The soldier's job is in accordance with international law of war.
But in the situation you say, the gendarmerie and the police should also carry out the fight against the PKK.
Of course, gendarmerie and police can do it. According to the training of soldier, there is only friend or enemy. If there is an enemy, he kills.
So, are there any advice of yours that came to life?
We have been saying “Gendarmerie to be separated from General Staff”, it separated. But we have been saying this for 15 years.
Did you talk with the President or his advisors to take these steps?
No, just I have published my articles.
In other words, did the President take some steps by listening to you directly?
No, they know about my articles that I have published in the past. They wanted to have me to meet with Mr. Abdullah Gül while he was the President, and he said, “We are reading and examining General Adnan’s articles.”
Mr. Adnan, let me ask you once again; There is also a claim that you have prepared a party army in accordance with the ideological line of the AK Party, what do you think about it?
I am totally against such an idea! The formation of the party's armed forces or armed militias is extremely wrong. I am totally against the idea of “armed militants other than the official armed force of the state.” In addition, our President takes his decisions regarding current events through official committees. Advisors cannot influence the decisions.
So, are they exaggerating your power a little bit?
Yes, they are exaggerating. I am also surprised by these claims sometimes I even say “What could we have done”! To be honest, it makes me laugh... Such a thing is not possible. We wanted to convey the experiences of our Armed Forces to Islamic countries with intemerate feelings. That’s all... We also want Islamic countries to be united, this is our “main goal”.
So why does SADAT cause suspicion? Why is it always at the center of discussion?
The attack on SADAT started from the transoceanic countries. Michael Rubin started writing about SADAT from the USA. Suat Avni, the amplifier of the treacherous FETO, took the floor. Mehmet Eymür also took his part in the slanders. Since the attack came from the USA, SADAT was made the subject of discussion because it was disturbed by its effective activities in Islamic countries. Recently, since I was appointed as the Chief Advisor to the President, SADAT and I are wanted to be used in baseless allegations in order to attack our President.
‘SADAT HAS NO ACTIVITY IN TURKEY’
Does SADAT have activities in Turkey, and if so, what is it?
There is not in Turkey.
Do you provide consultancy service to Turkish Armed Forces or Law Enforcement Agency?
Let me repeat. SADAT does not provide consultancy and training services to Police, Turkish Armed Forces or any other institution, organization or civilian in Turkey.
Does SADAT provide consultancy services only to official armed forces in foreign countries, or do you also conduct services such as forming militias or alternative armies?
SADAT is a company established to provide consultancy to the official armed forces of the countries in the field they need, to provide training, and to assist in the supply of weapons, vehicles and equipment. It does not have a mission to support the militia or the armed groups in those countries and to overthrow or put the countries in a difficult position. Countries that are in line with Turkey's foreign policies are selected.
Well, how many countries do you serve abroad?
We currently operate in only one country. It would be better not to reveal the country because they have right to keep confidential.
What services exactly do you provide in foreign countries?
In defense planning, the first issue is the threat assessment, the second issue is to develop the power against it, and the third issue is the planning of this power to be used against the threat. We provide the highest level of consultancy to those who need it. Apart from this, if there are subjects that require external training on the defense of their own country, they are still within our area of expertise. We send retired soldiers who are competent on these subjects there as consultants or trainers. They do not go to the head of an armed group, but to the official armed forces of the state or official defense industry systems.
You say, “We only provide training consultancy to the official armed forces”. But I guess you also provide tools and equipment, right?
Right, for example, they have weapons, tools and equipment, but they cannot use it. Of course, we use Turkey as base. We also act as the marketer of the weapons produced by Turkey. That country tells us what it needs, then we research the Turkish market.
Do you procure weapons and equipment from other countries?
Yes, there are other countries as well. For example, we requested from South Korea, they could not provide it. We also had contact with Ukraine. There is no other country we have contacted.
Do you supply equipment to the Turkish Armed Forces or Police Department?
No, SADAT does not provide service and material procurement services to the Turkish Armed Forces and the Police Department. As I said, we make an effort to develop the foreign markets of our institutions and to meet the needs of friendly countries at the standards of our country.
So, according to which legal regulations do you supply weapons, vehicles and equipment to foreign countries?
Production of defense industry products and their domestic and international circulation are subject to control. The circulation of this material is not possible without the permission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as there is an embargo to the relevant country according to international agreements, whether it complies with the laws numbered 5201, 5202 of the Ministry of National Defense in Turkey, whether the General Staff has an impact on the country's defense or not. In international supervision, the circulation of defense industry products is controlled in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions, the Geneva Convention on Disarmament and the agreements between countries. The same provisions apply to SADAT.
THERE SHOULD BE 30-40 MORE COMPANIES LIKE SADAT’
Are there other companies in Turkey that provide the same services like SADAT?
SADAT is the only company with a specific mission in this field, but I think there should be 30-40 more companies like SADAT...
‘SADAT MEANS SAYYIDS’
Where does SADAT's name come from, does it have anything to do with Naqshbandi?
No, it does not. We were looking for an acronym for Defense Consultancy. When we learned that “SADAT” means "sayyids" in Arabic, we decided to name it.
There are those who claim that SADAT means “Chief”...
It means sayyid, not chief.
Do you have anything to do with Naqshbandi?
We have got ties of affection. I had no relation with any sect or congregation until my retirement. My father was an imam, he studied at a madrasah in Uşak during the World War I. I was born in a religious family. When we were in the Armed Forces, it was not possible to be a part of any religious disposition. But after I left the Armed Forces, I went around the congregations and said, “A coup is coming and you are on the target of this coup.” Then I got to know the congregations.
Employees kissed your hand when you walked in for the interview. Does it have any special meaning?
It is just our culture. I do not want them to kiss my hand, I want to be seen as young but they are probably showing respect because of old age. Mrs. Kübra, I am not the leader of a cult! (She laughs)
‘WE HAD NO ACTIVITY IN SYRIA’
One of the most common claims about SADAT is that you are training opposition groups in Syria. Does SADAT have an organization for the Free Syrian Army or other opposition groups?
No. There was no training or organization activity in or out of Syria. In 2012, when the Syrian revolution had just begun, in the refugee camp in the south of Hatay, they talked about a colonel named Riad al-Asaad, one of the founders of the Free Syrian Army, and we went to visit him. The reason we went to visit was that Turkey thinks that the massacres committed by the regime as a threat. Opposition in Syria was disorganized. There was no Free Syrian Army yet, and we had negotiations for the organization of an opposition there. We have reported all of these meetings to the relevant authorities of the state. During our meetings, Riad al-Asaad said, “There are soldiers leaving the regime. These soldiers will join us, but their families are located there. If we can provide for the families, we can quickly organize the Syrian opposition through them. If we pay each family $100, they will join us. We need a monetary support of around 25 thousand dollars a month”.
Have they asked you for anything other than money?
They demanded weapons and equipment. We also recommended that if they want to bring Syria into a democratic order independently, they should not be dependent on foreign countries and procure their weapons from the regime's own warehouses.
How did that meaning resulted?
They came to Istanbul. The Muslim Brotherhood was the political wing of the insurgency at that time. But the two could not agree. While this was going on, as SADAT, we took this offer to the relevant authorities, but we did not receive a positive response.
In other words, the Turkish government refused the financial aid they demanded.
They did not refuse, they did not care. Then Riad al-Asaad went to Syria. There they bombed his car and he lost a leg, he became passive. Apart from this, there was no case of supporting any Syrian opposition group.
Is this the only initiative of SADAT regarding Syria?
Yes, it is.
Did SADAT assist any group in Syria or did SADAT members participate in an operation in Syria?
No. We have meetings that took place while Riyad al-Assad was staying in a refugee camp in Turkey. Apart from this, there was no case of supporting any Syrian opposition group. Delegations related to defense that come to Turkey also usually meet with SADAT after their official meetings. There have been requests for such meetings.
With which groups?
I do not remember now, because there are so many groups. Those who know us, those who are looking for someone to trust, want to meet with the hope that maybe it will help. These are the negotiations that will only convey their demands to us.
'FSA IS NOT STRONG TO FINANCE THE SERVICES OF SADAT'
Let me ask from another angle. Turkey is conducting a joint operation with the FSA. Opposition groups may need support there. Why did SADAT not provide training consultancy to the groups that Turkey cooperates with in that region?
SADAT is a commercial company that buys and sells services. Its purpose is not profit but mission. Therefore, when it provides a service, it must also receive a fee for it. These groups do not have the possibility of such payment. If everything went right, we would have trained the Free Syrian Army with Turkey's permission. They are not able to finance it. We transferred it to the government as a project at that time, we said “They need training. If Turkey supports this training, we will put this group in a position to fight the regime in one year. If Turkey supports it, it will be done in 6 months. Either you support it officially or give us the opportunity, we would support it” However, SADAT did not have an active and operational activity in Syria at that time and today, apart from the advisement that I mentioned.
Did you ever think “I wish they would supported it”?
Things were much fresher then. These happened in 2012. 2012 was not yet a period when America, Russia or global powers could bring their actors into the region. Of course, now they are acting in such a way that they are trying to turn some armed opposition groups in their own direction with money. In that respect, if Turkey had established relations with the FSA earlier, there would not have been so much suffering, so many refugees, so much blood would not have shed, the world's attention would not have been in this region so much, and I think everything would have ended earlier.
Have you had any activity in countries experiencing internal conflicts such as Libya and Chechnya?
We did not have any activity in Chechnya. In Libya, in the first half of 2013, a delegation of SADAT members met with the Commander of the Second Infantry Regiment, Colonel Fituri Caliph Salim Giribil, among the powerful soldiers of the Revolution in the first meeting, in Tripoli. In the second meeting SADAT members met with Doctor Salem K Adwib, General Manager of Mechanical Electrical Products (MEM) Group of Companies. Representatives of these two institutions visited SADAT in Turkey twice. As a result of these negotiations, a “Goodwill Protocol” was signed for the construction of a world-class pentathlon sports facilities in the barracks of the Second Infantry Regiment, and for the holding of sports events between Libyan military sports clubs and the TAF and a separate “Goodwill Protocol” was signed to turn one of the military factories of the MEM Group, which we were shown in detail, located in four different regions, into a Tank and Armored Vehicle Maintenance-Repair and modernization center for the Libyan Land Forces. A pentathlon project has been prepared. In order to determine the status of the Maintenance, Repair and Modernization Center, the SADAT delegation, consisting of 10 technical staff prepared to go to Tripoli, had to be stopped 6 hours before the third departure of the SADAT delegation to Libya. In August 2013, as a result of former Major General Khalifa Haftar's attempted countercoup in Benghazi, and as a result, stability deteriorated in Libya. There were changes in the military and civilian will and the SADAT-Libya projects could not be realized.
In Yemen, with a delegation formed under my presidency, in the second half of September 2012, we visited the strong man of the Yemeni revolution, Vice President Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, and gave a briefing on the training capability of SADAT that they might need. They stated that although they aspire to training, they do not have the opportunity to cover their own expenses, and they would accept it if Turkey finances it. Since the offer delivered to the government officials in Turkey was not attractive, connection with Yemen was also lost. We are of the opinion that if Libya, Syria and Yemen had been together with our state and under its control at that time, so much blood would not have been shed, and the turmoil and unstable situation in these countries would not have continued until today.
‘WE DO NOT HAVE A MERCENARY-TYPE ORGANIZATION AND SERVICE’
How many staff do you have, what are their ranks?
I consider this as a wrong question which is to be asked to commercial companies. Whatever a project requires, a staff is formed and the work continues with that staff. They have the needed number, rank and ability to provide consultancy in the field of defense and security. However, we do not have any mercenary-type organization and service either domestically or internationally.
Well, there have been news that you have employed your members with a salary of $5,000 in the past. How does SADAT get its funding?
SADAT had a capital, it had to increase this capital in 2015. Because you have operation expenses but no income for a long time. As such, it is important to survive. We initially told our shareholders, “This is a mission business, not a profit business. Become a shareholder with an amount that you will not regret if you lose”. Shareholders do not expect any income from SADAT either. After all, the amount we said is the money we will give to the qualified people whom we will send there when the country needs it in any way. We will take that amount of money from the other side.
‘ON THE NIGHT OF JULY 15, NONE OF THE MEMBERS OF SADAT TOOK TO THE STREETS ARMED’
Especially after July 15, there are allegations that civilian armament and training units are being formed. Is it related to SADAT? Even if it is not, do you have any know about such structures?
No. After the experience of July 15 coup attempt, there is an idea that civil society should be more organized, but not in armed way. There has been debate in civil society organizations about how to be better organized when such an incident occurs.
So, are you in this kind of non-governmental organization as being the chief advisor of the President?
No. I am a part of civil society. For example, in 2008 we had a platform called Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and about 17 non-governmental organizations were members of it. At that time, the April 27 memorandum was given, there were rumors of a coup. At that time, we held meetings with the members of the platform almost every week. We made a decision in these meetings: “If there is a coup, if the coup-plotters say, 'Do not go out,' we will go out on the street, otherwise we will not go out. When we go out on the street, we will occupy the coup-plotter barracks.” When we declared this, the Military Academy conducted a drill on how to take precautions in case of civilian occupation of the barracks.
Well, did SADAT have an impact on the organization of civilians on July 15, or did SADAT members take their guns and go out on the street that night?
On the night of July 15, 2016, we had no action or rhetoric other than to react individually to the coup as a citizen and to say to the friends and relatives who asked “what should be done”, other than to “follow the call of our President”.
Did any of the retired soldiers who are members of SADAT take a gun that night and join the armed resistance?
No, absolutely not. None of the members of SADAT go out to the streets armed.
Normally, do not we expect them to come out reflexively? You are a retired soldier and you are against the coup. There is a coup, do not you want to take your gun and go out?
No. No one took his gun and go out. Only those who go out to the streets made individual attempts by interfering with the people around them or the soldiers in front of them with their military experience.
So what did you do when you learned that there was a coup on the night of July 15?
That night I was at my summer house in Marmara Ereğlisi. I learned about the coup around 10 and a half to 11. I found out about 22:30 and 23:00. I thought about how to get to Istanbul from there. Against the coup-plotters, I have statements that “These are traitors, their leader is in the USA. They cannot act beyond their leader’s control.” I also have information that I am on their hit list. I stayed there until the situation became clear, then I went to Istanbul. When the call of our President came, some of our friends asked, “What should we do?” So I said, “Follow the call.”
You said that after the April 27 memorandum, you held meetings about the occupation of the barracks by civilians. Well, did you have any influence/advice in the resistance of the civilians against the coup-plotters on the night of July 15 or in strategic moves such as pulling the municipal trucks in front of the barracks?
No because everything happened so fast that night. But news came that “they are gathering the members of the AK Party to the district center”. So they are organized by themselves.
Let me ask the question from another angle. Were there any deficiencies or mistakes that you saw in the civil resistance on the night of July 15?
The coup is a crime, an organized operation, and the use of the state's resources against the will of the people. When such a power emerges, the nation may not have the power to prevent it other than itself. It can be more systematic than July 15. If people who consciously go to the tank, know where to get on the tank and know how to open the tank, are organized and be prepared to provide medical first aid to civilians who may be injured, then civil society resistance will be more effective, instead of people walking excitedly and unconsciously to the tank. That night, everyone got under the tank, got on top of it. There were people crushed by the tank. First aid for the injured was delayed. They walked over the fire. That people could have been more planned. They had no leader.
Well, should something like this happen against in a subsequent coup attempt?
Yes, it should happen. July 15 was not only a deterrent to the coup-plotters in Turkey; The message was given to the world, “If you use any de facto military force against Turkey, even if Turkey does not have military power, this people will stop you.” This is an incredible counter message. The necessary messages were given. In this respect, as long as the security forces and the armed forces are under the command of the national will, such a thing cannot be mobilized. Security forces would immediately prevent it.
Well, what would be the effect of this civil resistance against armed soldiers without weapon?
It will be better like July 15. The one in front of us is the son of this country. There must be psychological moves to appeal him. It should be thought, “What can we say so that the soldier puts down his gun”. Even if these discourses are brought to the agenda, even these are a great preparation.
‘SADAT CAN BE A COMMON DEFENSE ALLIANCE BETWEEN ISLAMIC COUNTRIES
Why does SADAT's mission specifically involve Islamic countries? Are you an Islamist?
The place we call Islamic geography covers North Africa and there are about 28 Islamic countries. There are many Islamic countries in Asia and 4 countries in Europe. With its center of gravity geographically covering North Africa and Central Asia, we define it as “Afrasia” or “Asrica”, an alternative geography to Eurasia. Here is Ottoman geography. As a result, we have a historical unity of at least 400 years, as well as a religious and cultural bond. In today's polarized world, there is a system of exploitation. If there is going to be a justice system against it, a power must emerge. The field of this power also forms this geography and the Islamic world is the people of this geography. Therefore, Turkey needs a wide area and base in terms of the policies it will implement. This can be possible with the formation of an alliance. Turkey has not been able to join the European Union for 60 years because of its belief. It is a political structure dominated by the Christian belief at one point. Turkey also needs to support an alliance or union in accordance with its own history, current situation and culture.
Well, why do not you see the whole world as a market, but especially Islamic countries!?
When you travel around, you see that their perspectives on Turkey are very different; There are countries that will accept Turkey into their structures and there are countries that will not. For example, the European Union has not yet accepted it. Today, the USA has 139 military bases around the world. We have first, second and third armies, but they are not like that; There is the European Central Forces Command, the African Forces Command, Army Forces in the Far East, and the Asian Forces Command. They have power at different points and they stand there with the land, naval and air units. It needs these points to control the world. Since it needs these points, it must keep the country's governments under pressure. As the governments get rid of this pressure and gain their own freedom, they will unite around Turkey. This is my way of thinking from my military life to the present. This is the main subject of ASSAM, the research center we established. We also established SADAT for the same purpose. SADAT can be a common defense alliance between Islamic countries. This is the ideological mission of SADAT. We are also working on the possibility of a common defense industry production. We thought, “we need to bring this need to the official armed forces of these countries.”
What do you think about Turkey’s NATO membership?
NATO had included us to take advantage of Turkey. After the World War II, Turkey entered as a defense group from the Caucasus or Thrace, under the threat of the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. But when we look at it concretely, when there is a threat to Turkey, NATO does not have much support beyond words; sometimes it symbolically sends a brigade. Had there been any military action against Turkey from the Caucasus in the past, NATO would have supported us on our own lands. It is not possible to open a new front through Germany or any other NATO country and make an attempt to protect us. Therefore, Turkey may have benefited from NATO for a while. There have been deficiencies. If we were not a member of NATO, we would be in a position to build all of our domestic defense industry by ourselves. But when we became a member of NATO, we had to buy our weapons and equipment under the guise of military aid from the United States or other countries, which hindered our development. For example, after the Cyprus Operation, our defense industry became a little more nationalized. There has been a lot of focus on that recently. If a country is not independent in terms of defense industry, it is not possible to be fully independent. Therefore, our defense industry must be national. The guarantee of peace is armed force. If you do not have the armed force, whether you are economically or politically strong, you cannot become fully strong. We should also focus on this area. When we focus on, capital and market will become important for us. Currently, Islamic countries have about 20,000 tanks, 2,000 warplanes, and nearly 2,000 ships purchased from global powers.
‘3-4 RETIRED MEMBERS OF ASDER, OFFICERS ARE SERVING IN TURKISH ARMED FORCES’
When and why did you leave the TAF? Are the allegations that you were dismissed from TAF on the grounds of carrying out reactionary activities true?
At the end of the four-year brigadier general waiting period, I have been made retired due to lack of staff from the Turkish Armed Forces. However, some events occurred during my retirement process. Between 1992-1995, I was the Commandant of an elite armored Brigade stationed in Maltepe, Istanbul. In February 1995, my Corps Commander, to whom my brigade is affiliated, conveyed the decision taken at the December 1994 Supreme Military Council Meeting, giving each of us a sheet of paper, at a meeting attended by me and other brigade commandants. The paper given to me states, “The officers and non-commissioned officers of your unit, whose names are written below, are engaged in reactionary activities. These staff will be warned to give up these activities. Those who do not comply with the warning will be expelled from the Turkish Armed Forces, and the same action will be taken against the superiors who do not implement the order.” There were names of 14 non-commissioned officers and 4 officers. Some of them were praying and they had wives who wore headscarf accordingly with Islamic belief. The military discipline, knowledge and skills of these staff under my command, the training, shooting, sports and combat readiness of troops, the maintenance status of their vehicles, weapons and equipment, the maintenance and cleaning of the buildings and facilities under their responsibility were at an exemplary level. In the face of this situation, I would have to either intervene by putting pressure on the beliefs of my staff under my command and arrange a registry for the expulsion of those who did not comply with the warning. Or I would do my best to protect the rights of my staff. I chose the second option. I sent my opinion that the accused personnel did not engage in any objectionable activity, that they were hard-working and exemplary soldiers, loyal to their country and nation, and that the objections against them should be removed. To the question “Does his wife have the ability to represent” in the qualification document that I attached to the application petition for the Military Academies entrance exams of one of the officers, I answered “Yes” even though his wife were wearing headscarf. The chief of the relevant department at the Land Forces Command informed me by phone that he wanted me to change the relevant article of the commander's qualification document, referring to this qualification document. And I said I could not change it. A few months after this incident, the Land Forces Command came to inspect my Brigade. My unit was found complete in every respect. However, the Commander of the Land Forces himself said, “General Adnan, I will not accept an officer whose wife wears headscarf into the academy. Similar qualification documents were changed by the commanders I sent news to. But only you did not change it”. After that, as I entered my fourth year as Brigadier General, I was appointed as Commandant of the Land Forces Health Department. When my fourth year as a brigadier general was completed, I have been made retired due to lack of staff.
What did you do after you retired?
Although I retired from the brigadier general, I had a lot of experience in terms of the locations I have worked. I thought that taking my retirement pension and living my life would mean wasting my life and that it would be a betrayal of this experience that my state had provided me. While I was on active-duty, I started to write articles about the military and the influence of military on politics. I supported the Association of Justice Defenders, “ASDER”, which was founded by some justice-seekers representing 1632 officers and non-commissioned officers who were expelled from the Turkish Armed Forces due to the injustices I witnessed. Between 2004-2009, I was the general chairman of this association. In 2011, I founded “ASSAM” Association of Justice Defenders Strategic Studies Center, “SADAT” International Defense Consultancy Construction Industry and Trade Inc. and “YUSDER” Yunus Outdoor Sports Association Club. I also took part in the consultation bodies of umbrella non-governmental organizations such as IDSB and TGTV, and I worked on the idea that the national will within the civil society should own all the institutions of the state.
Are there any soldiers who are affiliated with SADAT who were expelled from the TAF during February 28 period after the work of the Western Working Group?
Sure, nearly all of them.
With a decree issued last year, the way for retired officers to return to the TAF was paved. Are any of your members returning to the TAF with this decree?
There were 3-4 members who returned to the TAF. They were taken back because we spoke well about them. They took part in interview board.
Can we say that they are in a critical position in terms of allowing soldiers close to your ideology to enter the army?
200 people were recruited, just including 3-4 ASDER members. They serve as civilians, not in an armed position. Approximately 30 boards are established in each exam. We have only 3-4 members among this boards, they are also self-retired staff. They are not people who have been expelled by the decision of Supreme Military Council or for lack of discipline.
‘HULUSİ AKAR WAS MY STUDENT’
In a news published last week, it was claimed that the SADAT delegation visited the General Staff one month after the July 15 coup attempt. It was alleged that the President requested SADAT's visit to the General Staff, the Chief of General Staff Akar did not find the meeting appropriate and assigned Salih Ulusoy, and Ulusoy met with the delegation in the garden, not in his office, so that he would not cause any disturbance in the Headquarters. Is it true?
As ASDER, not SADAT, we visited our President at his house which is located in Kısıklı on January 17, 2016, not one month after July 15, in response to our request for an appointment. The main reason for the visit was to ensure that he would support the law proposal to remedy the grievances of some soldiers who were victimized during the February 28, 1997 process. They accepted our delegation. They listened to our proposal in detail. We also submitted our proposal for the law on “formation of the defense industry service sector”. They seem both suitable. Our President informed our Prime Minister and Chief of General Staff that he would report the issue, and that it was appropriate for us to convey the proposal to the Parliament through the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. We did so. After almost 2 months, in response to the appointment we requested from the Chief of General Staff in January, due to the workload of the Chief of the General Staff, the Chief of the General Staff's Plan and Policies invited our delegation. We made this visit at the beginning of March 2016.
The claim about the place of visit in the news you mentioned is also wrong. He received us in the meeting room next to the office room. Then he took us to lunch in the dining room allocated to the military protocol. We also have a past with our Chief of Staff, Mr. Hulusi Akar. While I was a lecturer at the Turkish Military Academy, General Hulusi completed his academy education. We also have a past with him based on the teacher-student relation. After July 15, 2016, I think, on July 25, 2016, upon the invitation of our President, an advisory meeting was held regarding the evaluation of the coup attempt due to our military identity.