ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 9 announced his new Cabinet, appointing the head of the Turkish military as the new defense minister.
This is the first time a civilian government in Turkey has picked an active-duty military commander as defense minister.
Army Gen. Hulusi Akar will take over from Nurettin Canikli.
Some of the top dossiers Akar will have to deal with immediately include a potential U.S. arms embargo on Turkey, including deliveries of the multinational stealth fighter F-35; deployment of the Russian-made S-400 air-defense and anti-missile systems on Turkish soil, a first time for a NATO ally; development of the TF-X, Turkey’s first indigenous fighter jet; the serial production of the Altay, Turkey’s first indigenous new-generation main battle tank; and scores of other procurement programs.
Born in 1952, Akar graduated from the Army College in 1972. He twice served for NATO tasks.
In another foreign posting, Akar served as commander of the Turkish forces in Bosnia. He also served as deputy chief of the General Staff (2011-2013) and commander of the Land Forces (2013-2015).
Akar has been Turkey’s top commander, the chief of the General Staff, since 2015.
He was one of the prime targets of a failed coup in July 2016 and is widely known as a staunch supporter of Erdogan, Turkey’s Islamist strongman.
Erdogan comfortably won Turkey’s presidential election on June 24 and will hold the position until 2023.