Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has given an interview to journalist Abdulkadir Selvi from the pro-government Hürriyet newspaper with regards to the absence of the military from the post-earthquake search and rescue efforts.
Akar’s comments came amid discussion that Turkey has not immediately mobilized the military in the aftermath of the Feb. 6-dated major quakes, leading to a slow response to victims, whereas the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) had deployed thousands of personnel to lead the search, rescue, evacuation and sheltering efforts after the 1999 Marmara Earthquake, which was at the time crucial for the recovery from the disaster.
According to Selvi's Feb. 28-dated column, Akar argued that the military has been involved in the quake response and said, “There was mobilization from the first moment onwards.”
“Where is 1999? Where is 2023? The comparison is very wrong. Everyone knows about the problems back then. The TSK personnel and families have been also exposed to the earthquake,” Akar reportedly said.
Deeming the criticism as “talking through the hat,” Akar said: “Who is going to protect the borders? Who is going to stay in Syria? Are we going to evacuate Syria, are we going to evacuate Iraq? The purpose of the blind who don’t want to see and of the deaf who don’t want to hear is something else; and our problem is something else. What we expect is respect towards this deep pain that we are going through as a country and towards the soldiers and personnel.”
Through years of reform, the military has become more controllable by the government. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is said to have a purpose of stripping the military of its domestic duties and redirecting it towards border security and abroad missions.