The attempted coup in Turkey demonstrated the practicalities and pitfalls of how alliances work.
Without mentioning him by name, President Obama reiterated his “unwavering support for the democratically-elected, civilian Government” of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Obama’s paper statement on Saturday specifically mentioned needing Turkey’s cooperation against terrorism (read: Islamic State.)
Erdogan was slow to allow the U.S. to use Incirlik Air Base to launch attacks against ISIS. He has cracked down on human rights, free speech and freedom of the press.
But Turkey is an ally the United States and NATO need if there is hope for peace in the Middle East.
Turkey and NATO: What Comes Next is Messy
James Stavridis – Foreign Policy
Perhaps the most shocking thing about the attempted coup in Turkey was that it had not already occurred. The obvious tensions between civil and military authorities have been a long-simmering witches’ brew…
Clearly, there will be a strong negative impact on the ability of the Turkish military to perform its duties across the spectrum of alliance activities….Unfortunately, it is likely that the military in the wake of the coup will be laser-focused on internal controversy, endless investigations, and loyalty checks — and simply surviving as an institution. This will have a chilling effect on military readiness and performance.
At the same time, the Turkish civilian authorities will be deeply suspicious of their military and gendarme forces following the coup…This will make Turkish civilian leaders, from Erdogan on down, less likely to be willing and capable partners in ongoing military operations outside of Turkey (e.g., the NATO missions against the Islamic State).
Turkey, Trump and the Dangerous Politics of Disorder
James Poulos – The Week
This is not “just another” terror attack, or “just another” round of unrest and repression in the Middle East. This is a NATO country, increasingly divided and anti-Western, careening between two dark futures with no end in sight and no peaceful escape from a showdown. Here in a single paroxysm is fodder for every one of Trump’s indictments against the U.S.-led international “order”: the passivity, weakness, and irrelevance of the Obama administration and the North Atlantic alliance at their worst; the implacable strength of Muslim extremists in the absence of effective local strongmen; the absurdity of depending on weak regional partners while rejecting grand bargains with those who can best project power; and perhaps above all, the profound lack of wisdom of trying to “lead” a hostile and alien world engaged in a bloody and uncontrollable race to the bottom.
Was Turkey’s Coup Attempt Just an Elaborate Hoax by Erdogan?
Cengiz Candar – Al-Monitor
Why did the coup attempt begin with blocking one side of Istanbul’s Bosporus Bridge? Why was the passage from the Asian Side to Europe blocked while the passage from Europe to Asia was allowed to flow?
Why did the putschists — knowing that Erdogan was neither in Ankara nor Istanbul but instead spending his vacation in the Mediterranean seaside town of Marmaris — not move to detain him?…
Why did the putschists not seize the main TV news channels and instead waste precious time taking over the least-watched state TV channel, TRT, allowing their targets to regroup and use more popular channels and social media effectively to challenge the coup attempt?
Turkey’s Sad Death Signals More Chaos in the Middle East
John Bolton – New York Post
The failed coup d’état by elements of Turkey’s military signals more repression and chaos in the Middle East….
Most importantly, Erdogan’s relentless pursuit of an increasingly radical Islamicization of Turkey will proceed largely unfettered. And no significant institutional or political opposition inside Turkey now stands athwart his penchant for authoritarianism….
Although it may sound odd to Western ears that the military was to safeguard civil rights, especially freedom of religion…
The Counter-Coup in Turkey
Editorial Board – The New York Times
It was ironic that, as members of the military launched a coup against him on Friday night, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey resorted to guerrilla media tactics — broadcasting via the FaceTime app on his cellphone — to urge Turks to oppose the plotters. Mr. Erdogan has been no friend to free expression, ruthlessly asserting control over the media and restricting human rights and free speech. Yet thousands responded to his appeal, turning back the rebels and demonstrating that they still value democracy even if Mr. Erdogan has eroded its meaning.
That erosion now seems likely to accelerate, exacting a terrible price from Turkey’s citizens and posing new challenges to international efforts to confront the Islamic State and halt the killing in Turkey’s neighbor, Syria.
Erdogan’s Opportunity After the Coup
Editorial Board – Bloomberg View
A decade ago, Erdogan seemed to have found the magic formula to combine Western liberal democracy with Islamic faith. But in recent years, he has grown increasingly authoritarian…
Unfortunately, the president’s first reaction to the coup has been to arrest hundreds of officers, purge thousands from the military and remove from office thousands of judges, all while blaming the attempt on his former political ally Fethullah Gulen, a cleric now living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.
Gulen denies it, the Turkish government has offered no evidence to support the claim…
President Barack Obama instead needs to make clear that, while the officers involved in the failed revolution should be punished, a widespread purge of the military and Erdogan’s political enemies would be the greater threat to Turkey’s ties with the U.S.