Erdoğan removes navy chief of staff from active duty

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan removed from active duty on Friday the Chief of staff of the Turkish Navy Rear Admiral, Cihat Yaycı, who was the architect of Turkey’s Libya deal last year.

The removal of Yaycı by an order signed by Erdoğan was done in “an unusual manner ahead of the Supreme Military Council meeting,” which customarily takes place in early August, an article on Veryansın TV said.

Yaycı, an influential figure in shaping Turkey’s maritime agreement with Libya last November who is also known for the method he developed to identify alleged Gülenists in the military, had fallen out with Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, the article said.

Journalist İbrahim Haskoloğlu said in a tweet that admirals he spoke to told him the removal would “make Greece and FETÖ happy,” referring to followers of Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric who Turkey accuses of having placed persons loyal to him in key public and military positions and masterminded the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016.

Yaycı had faced an investigation in January, and journalist Nedim Şener at the time wrote that the admiral had been targeted to force him to resign or retire.

Erdoğan had praised Yaycı in December last year for his “reports, maps, articles and books” on Libya. Yaycı was of the opinion that Turkey and Libya should be maritime neighbours, as Turkey was entitled to more territorial waters than it currently controlled.

In line with the rear admiral’s views, Turkey’s agreement with Libya redefined maritime borders, giving Turkey claim over waters currently controlled by Greece and Cyprus.

Yaycı was targeted as part of an effort to hinder Turkey’s deal with Libya, retired admiral Mustafa Özbey told Veryansın TV.

Cihat Yaycı graduated from the Naval Academy in 2000, and Armed Forces Academy in 2003. He also holds graduate degrees in physics engineering and electronic engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in California, as well as a doctorate in international relations from Istanbul University. He was appointed as the navy chief of staff in August 2017.