Friday, May 27, 2016
Preparing for War? Meet Turkey’s New Defense and Science Ministers
© REUTERS/ Umit Bektas
Among twelve reshuffled and eight new ministers in new Turkey’s cabinet, two appointments are particularly revealing.
On Tuesday, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan approved a new cabinet, proposed by new Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, who took the position vacated by Ahmet Davutoglu. Journalists note that many key figures retained their positions in the cabinet, though as many as twelve have new responsibilities.
The new defense minister is Fikri Islik, who served as the science, industry and technology minister in the Davutoglu cabinet. The Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology is, as the name suggests, the body that oversees what, how, and where production occurs, and, more importantly, the logistics of the procurement process.
"Isik did not have a directly defense-related portfolio except the satellite programs, but he was a de facto insider to procurement matters. Now he has officially become the man in charge," said an unnamed ministry representative, referring to Isik's being responsible for Turkey's Turksat-4B satellite, taken into orbit by Russian rocket in 2015.
According to Defense News, earlier this year Isik visited the US production unit of Sikorsky and discussed a Sikorsky-run Turkish program for the co-production of 109 utility helicopters for the Turkish military.
His seat is now taken by Faruk Ozlu, one of the eight first-time ministers with no previous government experience. According to Defense News, Ozlu was a director of several state-owned military-aviation defense companies, including Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries, HEAS and STM.
These two appointments may indicate that Turkey is on the verge of a large military project, which will likely include the Turkish Air Force. Is Turkey preparing for war? Or perhaps President Erdogan, secretly impressed by the performance of the Russian Air Force in Syria, will now take an even more direct approach to Turkey's internal Kurdish contrariety?