In the first decade of new millennium Turkey emerged as a strong economic power which as an influential middle eastern leader also expressed herself as a prominent leader in the global economic system.
US strategic interests in the region have a significant base in strategic alliance with Turkey.
President Recep Erdogan where on one hand is economically strengthening Turkey is also playing an active role in regional and global politics. The role of the military establishment in Turkey remained crucial throughout the course of history. As there are several incidents when it tried intervention in the name of reinstating the lost spirit of Kemalism (political ideology of Kamal Attaturk).
Current government under Recep Erdogan had to face numerous challenges concerning Kurdish issue heating up for a long time, the threat from ISIS, to satisfy the demands of EU membership, suspected army coup, and Gulen movement.
To deal with the challenges, he devised strategies to counter these threats in their particular dimension. With time there emerged a support group in military ranks that had a soft corner for Fatehullah Gulen. The Kemalist establishment still looms over the AKP. The Gülen Movement has thus found ideal partners in the forms of Kemalist establishment. With stern loyal domestic and international networks of support, great representation in the bureaucracy and the distaste for such a repressive establishment, the Gülenists proved to be natural allies.
Mutual elements of distrust could work jointly to destabilize his government, and this fear popped up, and he decided to break this forever. The rift only widened between Gulen and Erdogan when Gülen himself voiced blatant criticism of Erdogan’s government of the handling protests of May 2013 and wobbling of government’s grip on power.
Later in October of the same year, the government proposed legal changes to close university entrance examination of the institutions of Gulen which was a primary source of Gulenist revenue and recruitment of youth.
In December 2013, Gulenists revealed evidence of large-scale corruption in Erdogan’s government that have reached all the way to the highest ranks by that time, implicating Erdogan himself, his family and key ministerial allies. It proved to be the last nail in the coffin of their common ground, and they entered a new phase of rivalry where an open unannounced war started.
Erdogan luckily survived the crisis and unleashed a backlash of sustained intensity that continues to this day. He purged Gulenist sympathizers from every part of the bureaucracy, closed Gulenist media organizations, punished Gulenist-owned companies, and orchestrated the insolvency and takeover of the formerly Gulenist-aligned Bank Asya.
Since this eruption, Erdogan has taken every opportunity to accuse the Gulenist movement of functioning as an illegal parallel state subverting institutions and engaging in terrorism.
In its first decade of the millennium, AKP under Erdogan’s leadership successfully neutralized militarily by all meaning including legal means. AKP’s unraveled political alliance, conflicts in Southeast Turkey and Syria and the party’s falling out with the Gulenist movement, partially restored the military’s standing quite well. Though Erdogan had installed a flexible leadership, of experts in his government, the military establishment still opposed AKP bitterly. After the restored institutional confidence and lasting hostility toward the governing party, a faction within the army ranks sought to interrupt Turkish democracy for the fifth time.
On July 16, this year, army attempted a coup by overthrowing Erdogan. Even though it was crushed by government’s machinery and the attempt failed but had significant strategic consequences.
The coup has affected US-Turkey strategic alliance in countering the regional challenges. Since it has created issues among two NATO members it will change their approach towards resolving and countering Islamic State’s influence in the region. The joint fight against ISIS in which both have agreed to launch airstrikes against ISIS will be possibly jeopardized. Breaching this critical bilateral relationship model would weaken NATO in its policy toward Russia as well. Since the relations between Turkey and Europe will be affected, it will directly impact the infiltration and cross-border exchange and primarily will affect the refugee crises in the region.
As a consequence of the failed coup, Turkey’s relations with the European states will also be affected. As Turkey is struggling to become a part of European Union for so long and the progress was that in March the terms and conditions were finalized and the gate to Turkey’s entrance into EU opened. But the coup has highlighted the weak and vulnerability of political system so it cannot be relied upon to be a part of European Union.
The July 2016 failed coup and trajectory of Turkey in its aftermath could significantly impact US-Turkey relations given Turkey’s regional importance and membership in NATO. Among NATO allies, only the US military has more active duty personnel than Turkey’s. Moreover, the rise of Anti-American sentiments too has multiplied after that. It’s a general perception among the public that Gulen’s attempt of the overthrowing democratic process was the agenda of US by plotting a putsch indirectly.
Turkey is an important regional player and holds significance in global agendas. Vulnerability in Turkey’s political order and the allegations of US involvement in the coup have raised grave consequences in the middle east strategic overlook and have altered many existing patterns contributing in the global political system. It has affected Turkey’s relations with US, Europe and can change the relationship model with Russia as well.