Çevik Bir

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Çevik Bir was a member of the Turkish General Staff in the 1990s. He took a major part in several important international missions in the Middle East and North Africa. He was born in Buca, İzmir, in 1939 and is married with one child.[1]

He graduated from the Turkish Military Academy as an engineer officer in 1958, from the Army Staff College in 1970 and from the Armed Forces College in 1971. He graduated from NATO Defense College, Rome, Italy in 1973.[1]

From 1973 to 1985, he served at SHAPE; NATO's headquarters in Belgium. He was promoted to brigadier general and commanded an armed brigade and division in Turkey. From 1987 to 1991, he served as major general, and then was promoted to lieutenant general.[1]

After the dictator Siad Barre’s ousting, conflicts between the General Farah Aidid's party and other clans in Somalia had led to famine and lawlessness throughout the country. An estimated 300,000 people had died from starvation. A combined military force of United States and United Nations (under the name "UNISOM") were deployed to Mogadishu, to monitor the ceasefire and deliver food and supplies to the starving people of Somali. Çevik Bir, who was then a lieutenant-general of Turkey, became the force commander of UNISOM in 1993.[1] Despite the retreat of US and UN forces after several deaths due to local hostilities mainly led by Aidid, the introduction of a powerful military force opened the transportation routes, enabling the provision of supplies and ended the famine quickly.

He became a four-star general and served three years as vice chairman of the Turkish Armed Forces, then appointed commander of the Turkish First Army, in Istanbul. While he was vice chairman of the TAF, he signed the Turkish-Israeli Military Coordination agreement in 1996.

Çevik Bir became the Turkish army's deputy chief of general staff shortly after the Somali operation and played a vital role in establishing a Turkish-Israeli entente against the emerging fundamentalism in the Middle East. For being a staunch defender of secularism in the region, he was awarded the Secularism and Democracy Award of 1997 in Washington, DC.[2]

Çevik Bir retired from the army on August 30, 1999.[1] He is a former a member of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA).

Distinctions

  • United Nations Medal (1994)
  • US Medal of Merit (1994)[3]
  • Turkish Armed Forces Medal of Distinguished Service (1995)[3]
  • German Medal of Honor (1996)[3]
  • Turkish Armed Forces Medal of Merit (1996)[3]
  • United Kingdom Distinguished Achievement medal (1997)
  • United Kingdom Distinguished Service medal (1997)
  • Jordanian Medal of Istihkak (1998)[4]
  • French Medal of Merit (1999)

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