Rear Admiral Cihat Yayci, architect of Turkey’s policy on Libya and maritime borders in the Mediterranean Sea, has been removed as Chief of Staff of the Turkish Navy, according to reports in the Turkish media.
The reasons behind the decision, which was reportedly signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan late Friday, have not been officially confirmed.
Reports in the Turkish media said Yayci is accused of having rigged a tender for the procurement of torpedo-related equipment for the Turkish Navy.
According to other reports, Yayci, who is also known for developing the so-called Fetometer algorithm for identifying alleged supporters of the Fethullah Gulen movement within the ranks of the country’s armed forces, had fallen out with Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.
Born in Elazig in 1966, Yaycı graduated from Naval High School in 1984 and Naval Academy in 1988.
He served in various ships of the Naval Forces Command such as branch officer, department chief and command.
He completed his master’s degree in human resources at Marmara University and in the USA in the field of physics engineering and electronics engineering and completed his doctorate in international relations at Istanbul University.
After he was promoted to the Division in 2016, he worked as the Personnel Head of the Naval Forces Command until 2017.
On August 20, 2017, he was appointed as the Chief of Staff of the Naval Forces Command.
Erdogan was appointed to the command of the General Staff, with a decision published on Saturday.
While the motive for removing Yaycı remains unclear, left-wing and nationalist media outlets say the decision will be welcomed by groups and states they deem to be enemies of Turkey. Some have blamed the dismissal, which led to his resignation on Monday morning, on a power struggle between Yaycı and the cadre built around Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, who headed the army before moving to the ministry in 2018.
Turkey plans to implement the GNA deal by starting drilling activities in the region in July, but Greece, Cyprus and Egypt object to the agreement, seeing it as a brazen bid by Ankara for dominance in the contested waters.
Lauded by pro-government and left-wing media alike, Yaycı is known for his nationalist and expansionist views, and was one of the military officers best-known by the public. Erdoğan in December explicitly thanked the naval chief for his work on Turkey’s Libya policy and masterminding the Turkish-Libyan maritime deal.
In his book “Requirements of Greece: The Problems in the Aegean with Questions and Answers,” Yaycı maintains that Turkey should revive the spirit of the Ottoman Empire and claim sovereignty over some islands and islets in the Aegean.
Ultranationalist left-wing Ayınlık newspaper said the suspension of Yaycı from active duty would damage Turkey’s interests in the Aegean and Mediterranean, while left-wing news site SoL recalled that the admiral was a rare figure whose policies were praised by Erdoğan and had received approval across the media spectrum, including accolades from opposition outlets like Sözcü newspaper.
Sözcü columnist Aytunç Erkin said Yaycı had been targeted by the Gülenists, a religious group accused by Ankara of a long-running scheme to infiltrate key public and military positions. Members of the Gülen group are blamed by the government and many others in Turkey for orchestrating the July 2016 coup attempt.
Yaycı had developed a technique for identifying alleged Gülenists in the military known in Turkey as FETÖMETRE, as Ahmet Zeki Üçok, a retired military judge, noted in his column for the left-wing nationalist news site Oda TV.