The recent failed coup attempt in Turkey has not only thrown the country into chaos, but could derail the very fundamentals of the country's foreign policy relations with the US and Europe. In its aftermath, there could be grave consequences for European-US co-operation with Ankara to combat the Islamic State in Syria; more generally, Turkish-European Union ties, including the efforts to work together to stem the flow of Syrian refugees, are now threatened.
The mood in the country is nervous, angry and dark. Although the coup plot was extinguished within a day last Saturday, an eerie feeling still lingers over Ankara, the capital, which saw the most violence. Fearing for his safety, Erdoğan did not return to Ankara until last Wednesday. The bombing of the city, including the targeting of parliament, has deeply shocked the residents of the city, which has not experienced a military attack in more than 600 years.
Consider, too, the effect on Istanbul, also targeted. F-16 planes, operated by coup plotters who intended to terrorise residents, flew at low altitude and high speed over the city, creating supersonic booms that produced the illusion the city was being bombed.
The plot was traumatising in other respects. As a factional uprising, it went against everything we know about the hierarchical Turkish military and the history of bloodless coups. That the military does not fire at its own people is an article of faith. This time, the putschist faction did. More than 100 citizens, as well as putschists, were killed in the violence.
The bulk of the Turkish military, including the force commanders and the chief of staff, who were held at gunpoint by the putschists, refused to participate in the plot. But following the failed coup, the Turkish military is so fragile that without a helping hand from its Nato allies that the secular institution could implode.
In fact, the abiding trauma is so deep that the divisive president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, finally has a unified audience. Erdoğan has focused on two key retributive measures: asking the US to extradite Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Muslim cleric living in the country, whom he blames for orchestrating the violence; and bringing back capital punishment.
Speaking last week, Erdoğan vowed to approve the reinstatement of capital punishment if Turkish parliament, controlled by his Justice and Development party (AKP), voted to pass such a measure. The policies would hurt Turkey's ties with Washington and Brussels.
Another blow to US ties is that many in the pro-government camp believe that Gulen's status as US resident implicates Washington in the coup. Prominent columnists in pro-AKP newspapers have already aired these allegations and at least one other cabinet member, Labour minister Süleyman Soylu, publicly blamed the US for being behind the coup.
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