SUMMARY: Farrah Sheikh, director of digital content for the Center for Global Policy, talks with CGP senior fellow Kamran Bokhari about the effects of the coup attempt on Turkish politics and foreign policy.
The failed coup showed a fissure within the military over support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party. In previous coups, the military was united in its purpose, Bokhari says. However, in the most recent coup attempt, the military seems to have been divided over whether to support the democratically elected government, which has a religious bent.
Bokhari says that Kemalist officers concerned chiefly with keeping Turkey secular appear to have been behind the coup. It is less clear if Gulenist elements had anything to do with it. However, Erdogan’s government is reaching beyond Turkey’s borders to target Gulenist organizations, even asking the United States to extradite the movement’s founder, Fethullah Gulen, to Turkey. The government is also using the attempted overthrow as a reason to crack down on other elements, including journalists and academics, who do not appear to be related to the failed coup.
Bokhari also discusses U.S.-Turkish relations — including the issue of Gulen’s potential extradition — and Ankara’s role in managing the Syrian civil war. Crises have erupted all around Turkey, and it is the only country with the capability to manage the Syria crisis. The triangle of relationships involving Turkey, the United States and Russia could determine Turkey’s actions.