“A failed coup in Turkey – a longtime ally of the U.S. and a member of NATO -could have significant and wide-ranging implications for the U.S.”
Why Turkey’s Coup Attempt Matters for U.S.
The Turkish government appeared to be regaining control of major cities Saturday the morning after a faction of the Turkish military tried to take over the country. A failed coup in Turkey — a longtime ally of the U.S. and member of NATO — could have significant and wide-ranging implications for the U.S.
That’s particularly the case, since Turkey is one of the world’s few Muslim-majority democracies and it sits at a key crossroads between the West and the Middle East, with Turkey playing a critical role in the fight against ISIS in Syria, the handling of Syrian refugees and in serving as a transit point for foreign ISIS fighters.
The impact was felt almost immediately as a key asset in the U.S. anti-ISIS campaign, the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey just 60 miles from the Syrian border, was forced to halt operations amid the uncertainty.
As of Saturday morning, Turkish military authorities had closed the airspace around Incirlik, making it impossible for U.S. airstrike missions against ISIS from that location, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.
“U.S. officials are working with the Turks to resume air operations there as soon as possible,” Cook added.
He also said the U.S. military was working to adjust its counter-ISIS operations “to minimize any effects on the campaign.”
A U.S. defense official told CNN that the Pentagon is looking to conduct operations out of other bases in the region because of the Incirlik shutdown, which the military specifically needs to operate drones to fight ISIS, also known as ISIL.
Even once the airspace is reopened, though, the U.S. military may be reluctant to restart operations until it is certain who is in control of the Turkish armed forces.
Additionally, tensions between the U.S. and Turkey could increase as an extradition battle now looms. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Fethullah Gulen, who currently lives in Pennsylvania, of being behind the coup and demanded the U.S. hand him over, though the exiled cleric has denied any involvement.
Here is a look at what else this could mean for the U.S.
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