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The Strategic Consequences of Turkey’s Failed Coup

Failed coups can be just as consequential as successful ones. The botched putsch in Turkey will have far-ranging implications for the country’s foreign relations and regional role, particularly as relations with both the US and the EU worsen in the coming months.

ISTANBUL – A military coup against an elected government typically unleashes a flood of analysis about the country’s future direction following the break in democratic rule. But failed coups can be just as consequential. The botched attempt by elements of the Turkish military to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will have far-ranging implications for Turkey’s foreign relations and regional role. Turkey’s relationship with the United States, in particular, is headed for considerable turbulence.

The coup attempt heralds a new and uneasy phase in the Turkey-US relationship, because Turkish authorities have linked it to Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic preacher based near Philadelphia since 1999 but with a core group of followers in Turkey.

Gülen was previously charged with establishing a parallel state structure primarily within the police, the judiciary, and the military. More recently, the Turkish authorities classified the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization – a label given new meaning by the failed coup. But, despite the growing evidence concerning Gülen and his followers, the impression in Ankara is that the US has so far refused to constrain the activities of his network, which includes a range of schools and many civil-society organizations.

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