Turkey experienced a failed military coup this past Friday, a coup that, if successful, would have been the country’s fifth in the last 60 years. Beginning around midnight, local time, the coup was led by a small group within the Turkish military.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on vacation when the coup began, however he was able to address the Turkish people via FaceTime on CNN Turk.
Turkish National Intelligence announced the coup was over after a few hours, but not after 161 civilians were killed and another 1,140 were injured, as reported by CNN.
Presidential Hopefuls React
Reactions to the news coming out of Ankara further illustrated the gulf between America’s presidential candidates’ experience levels.
During the unveiling of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, Donald Trump (R-N.Y.) used the events in Turkey as an opportunity to attribute the unrest to President Barack Obama Obama and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.)
With a known affinity for authoritative rulers, Trump notably avoided any betrayal of his support for either side. The Clinton camp released a statement via Twitter condemning the coup and urging “calm and respect for laws,” from all parties involved.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) July 16, 2016
US-Turkey Relations Moving Forward
With the coup a failure and relative order restored, President Erdogan has fully entered the mode of meting out punishment to those involved in the uprising. One target of this fury is the Pennsylvania resident, Fethulla Gulen, a Sunni cleric and leader of the popular movement Hizmet.
Living in self-imposed exile, Gulen has been a political rival of Erdogan’s for some time now.
Erdogan has accused Gulen of being behind the coup, and has demanded the US extradite him to face punishment in Turkey. Secretary of State John Kerry has stated the US would consider such an arrangement, so long as Turkey turns over their evidence against Gulen, a requirement that Ankara has balked at. T
urkey is an important strategic ally of the US in the region, hosting multiple air bases and acting as the launchpad of US air strikes on ISIS-held positions.
Chaos Begets Chaos: The ISIS Question
There’s a strong correlation between political repression, power vacuums, and radical terrorism, and it seems both a power vacuum and political repression begin to be fomenting in Turkey. Sharing a border with Syria and having a history of struggling to keep that border secure, the coming weeks in Turkey will prove crucial to Western security interests in the region.
Meanwhile, Erdogan has to this point suspended, detained, or arrested nearly 9,000 people, including several top military and security aides.
How Turkey handles the coming weeks, with a large, dispossessed population at home and a civil war breeding radical Islamists on its border, will be critical to both its short-term and long-term stability.
Featured Image: Screenshot Via YouTube Video.