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Failed Coup Puts Strain On Turkey, US Ties; Ankara Closes Airbase From Where US Attacks IS

Published on 17 July, 2016 at 2:26 pm By

Following the failed coup bid, the Turkey accused US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen for orchestrating the attempted military takeover of the country’s democratically elected government.


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Fetullah Gulen, the man who Erdogan wants from US. Selahattin Sevi / Reuters

Fetullah Gulen, the man who Erdogan wants from US. Selahattin Sevi / Reuters

In an address after the coup bid was thwarted, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım addressed the world media and said:

“I do not see any country that would stand behind this man, this leader of the terrorist gang, especially after last night. The country that would stand behind this man is no friend to Turkey. It would even be a hostile act against Turkey.”

That “any country” reference was directed at the United States.

A vengeful Turkish President Recep Tayyep Erdogan, who sees his former ally Gulen as his biggest rival, publically addressed Obama in a rally of his supporters in Istanbul.

“Dear President Obama, I told you this before, either arrest Fethullah Gulen or return him to Turkey, you did not listen. I call on you again after there was a coup attempt. Extradite this man in Pennsylvania to Turkey.”

It is clear that the failed coup attempt has not only solidified Erdogan’s stand in Turkey but has made him an all-powerful leader in West Asia’s only secular Muslim-dominated country.

By late Saturday (US time), there was a growing sentiment in Turkey that the coup was backed by the US.


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Quoting US Secretary of State John Kerry’s words to his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavosoglu, State Department spokesman John Kirby said: “Public insinuations or claims about any role by the United States in the failed coup attempt are utterly false and harmful to our bilateral relations.”



 

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Kerry had earlier told reporters that the US wants the government of Turkey to present “any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny” promising that Washington will look into it carefully.

Turkey, on the other hand, closed the Incirlik airbase in south-eastern part of the country to military aircraft. The airbase is from where US forces launch air attacks on the Islamic State in Syria.

The closer of the base, described by US as temporary, will affect the operation against IS if it lasts for more than four days.

 

A Turkish fighter jet takes off from the Incirlik Air Base. Murad Sezer / Reuters

A Turkish fighter jet takes off from the Incirlik Air Base. Murad Sezer / Reuters

At the same time NATO too is feeling stretched with a Turkey under Erdogan because under ‘Sultan’, as his Anatolian supporters call him, the second biggest military power in the alliance went against Kurds instead of Islamic State. The Kurds are the biggest ally of the US in the war against Islamic State.

Turkey has never taken any action against the IS and, instead, is consistently attacking Kurds who have been most effective in fighting the barbaric terror group.

There are also concerns of the steady decline of press freedom and Erdogan’s Islamist leanings.


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The failed coup will go down in Turkey’s history as the day Erdogan became a quasi-Sultan – something Erdogan wants to see himself as.

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