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Why the attempted coup in Turkey matters to the US

July 16,2016 17:10

Political instability in Turkey, a NATO member and critical U.S. partner in the fight against terrorism, could pose a setback for the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. A coup attempt in Turkey was crushed and the ...

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Istanbul residents reacted angrily to Turkish military officers who blocked some highways and main roads in Istanbul following an attempted military coup. (July 15)
APPolitical instability in Turkey, a NATO member and critical U.S. partner in the fight against terrorism, could pose a setback for the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.A coup attempt in Turkey was crushed and the "government is in control," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday. About 200 people were killed and hundreds more arrested.Erdogan vowed that the members of the military responsible for the coup would "pay a heavy price for their treason" and that "those who stain the military’s reputation must leave. The process has started today, and it will continue just as we fight other terrorist groups."Erdogan's pledge to punish the coup leaders within the military could lead to a broader purge in Turkey's armed forces, which might at least temporarily slow Turkey's effort to fight the Islamic State. Turkey has become a critical U.S. partner in the region.Initially reluctant to actively support U.S. efforts to combat the extremist group, Turkey now permits American planes flying missions against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq to using the Incirlik base in southeastern Turkey, which puts planes closer to their targets and allows them to stay in the air longer.Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said Saturday that the air operations at the base had stopped because Turkey closed the airspace around the base."The Turkish government has closed its airspace to military aircraft, and as a result air operations at Incirlik Air Base have been halted at this time. U.S. officials are working with the Turks to resume air operations there as soon as possible," Cook said."In the meantime, U.S. Central Command is adjusting flight operations in the counter-ISIL campaign to minimize any effects on the campaign. U.S. facilities at Incirlik are operating on internal power sources and a loss of commercial power to the base has not affected base operations," he said.Turkey also has been helpful in combating the militants by securing its 775-mile border with Syria to reduce the flow of foreign fighters into Syria to join the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, the Pentagon says.“The United States and Turkey are united in our common fight against ISIL, and Incirlik continues to play a key role in the coalition's counter-ISIL operations,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said earlier this year.Turkey's security forces play a critical role in defending its borders with Syria.Saudi jet fighters park at Incirlik Air Base near Adana, southern Turkey, on Feb. 26, 2016, as they prepare to join the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. (Photo: AP)Top U.S. military leaders were “closely monitoring” developments in Turkey and were concerned over the reports of a military coup seeking to oust Erdogan, according to a defense official who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.On Saturday President Obama scheduled a meeting with his national security and foreign policy team to discuss the developments in Turkey, the White House said.A military coup would have presented a dilemma for the Pentagon and NATO, which would be hard pressed to justify continuing to work closely with officers who deposed a democratically elected government.Robert Pearson, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, said  the Turkish military has long been a strong supporter of secular government and a critic of government corruption.Replay1 of 352 of 353 of 354 of 355 of 356 of 357 of 358 of 359 of 3510 of 3511 of 3512 of 3513 of 3514 of 3515 of 3516 of 3517 of 3518 of 3519 of 3520 of 3521 of 3522 of 3523 of 3524 of 3525 of 3526 of 3527 of 3528 of 3529 of 3530 of 3531 of 3532 of 3533 of 3534 of 3535 of 35AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsRead or Share this story: http://usat.ly/29IQsT1

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