In a classified military dispatch seen by Reuters, 149 military envoys posted to the alliance’s headquarters and command centers in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain were ordered on Sept. 27 to return to Turkey within three days.
Most were dismissed from service on their arrival, arrested and imprisoned, according to a Turkish military official at NATO and two farewell letters sent by departing Turkish officials emailed to colleagues at NATO and seen by Reuters.
One of those letters wrote of a “witch-hunt” of senior air force commanders serving overseas....
But dismissed NATO soldiers say they were targeted because of their Western outlook and education in Europe and the United States. They believe that puts them at odds with Erdogan’s vision of an Islamic Turkey inspired by the Ottoman empire, unable to fit in with what they see as Turkey’s pious masses and a president forging a nation that will not be dictated to by foreigners.
One dismissed staff member, Colonel Aziz Erdogan, wrote: “The common denominator of these victims is that all of them have a ... Western educational background and secular mindset.” Erdogan, who is no relation of the president, made the comment in a letter entitled “Unfortunate Farewell” to colleagues at NATO headquarters in Brussels.