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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
New Turkish military chief named
By Pam O'Toole
BBC News

New Turkish armed forces chief Gen Yasar Buyukanit
Gen Buyukanit was previously commander of Turkey's land forces
The Turkish government has named the new head of the country's powerful military - Gen Yasar Buyukanit.

He will take over from Gen Hilmi Ozkok at the end of August.

Gen Buyukanit is widely expected to advocate a tougher line on combating the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK, and upholding Turkey's secular traditions.

There had been weeks of speculation in Turkey that the Islamist-rooted conservative government might try to block his promotion.

Analysts have suggested the decision to confirm his appointment unusually early was aimed at quashing such speculation and preventing it from overshadowing Tuesday's meeting of the Supreme Military Council.

Hawkish and outspoken

The powerful army regards itself as the guardian of a secular, united, Turkish state.

The current chief of general staff, Gen Ozkok, had faced criticism from soldiers who felt he was not publicly critical enough about government policies towards the threats which radical Islam and the growing PKK insurgency posed to the country.

Turkish soldier
All Turkish men are conscripted for up to 15 months

Gen Buyukanit is expected to be more hawkish and outspoken than his predecessor on such issues, and is expected to advocate a tougher line on the fight against the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers' Party.

Earlier this year he provoked controversy when he described as "a good chap" a soldier who was later jailed for a bombing thought to be aimed at stirring up unrest in the largely Kurdish southeast.

He will take up his post at a sensitive time. With PKK attacks on the rise, there has been increasing pressure on the government to conduct a cross-border operation against the group's bases in northern Iraq.

Ankara is also said to be considering the idea of providing troops for an international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.


SEE ALSO
Country profile: Turkey
26 Jul 06 |  Country profiles

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