A protestor chants slogans and waves a Turkish flag during a demonstration against corruption in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul on Dec. 25. (Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images)
ANKARA — The Turkish military said on Friday it would not get involved in the political turmoil sparked by a high-level corruption probe targeting the very core of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.
"The Turkish Armed Forces do not want to get involved in political debates," the military said in a statement posted on its website.
The statement came after a close aide of Erdogan, Yalcin Akdogan, wrote in his column in a pro-government newspaper that the corruption scandal could be a setup to trigger a military coup.
The army said it would stay away from the political debates and continue to perform its duties defined by law and the constitution.
The military, which sees itself as the guarantor of Turkey's secular principles, has carried out three coups — in 1960, 1971 and 1980, — and pressured an Islamist government to step down in 1997.
But since coming to power in 2002, the government of Erdogan's Islamic-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) has reined in the once-powerful military with a series of court cases.
Dozens of active and retired officers have been convicted since 2008 over alleged plots against the government.