Saturday, July 30, 2016
Recent events in Turkey could impact U.S. operations against the Islamic State
By Jim Emerson, staff writer
Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan’s purge of political enemies after a counterfeit coup attempt has compromised U.S. led operations against the Islamic State. Many of the senior Turkish officers who were working with the United States have been either removed from military service or jailed. U.S. director of national intelligence and U.S. Central Command General Joseph Votel addressed the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado. The General is concerned about the impact of the fake coup attempt on U.S. operations and personnel at Incirlik Air Base.
After the staged coup, President Erdogan began purging the military, with approximately 1,700 military personnel receiving dishonorable discharges including nearly half of the nation’s admirals and generals. In an effort to consolidate his power, Erdogan severely damaged NATO’s second largest military. The Turkish military had traditionally been the vanguard against the country being taken over by a dictator. Erdogan, however, greatly increased the size and strength of Turkey’s national police force, using it to counter the military and consolidate his power to establish an Islamic police state.
Erdogan further purged tens of thousands of workers, teachers, bankers, police officers, soldiers and bureaucrats. He also arrested thousands accused of having ties to the so-called Gulen conspiracy, named after Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania who was allegedly the mastermind of the coup. In order to control the flow of information, Erdogan began to silence journalists by firing or arresting them based on their coverage of national security issues. He also shut down TV and Radio stations throughout Turkey. Government officials, however, claimed that the dismissal of journalists was not related to professional activities, but to possible criminal conduct.
Turkey is the host nation of at Incirlik Air Base, a key to air operations against the Islamic State. The Turkish military has been a crucial American ally in the fight against terrorism. The purge of U.S. friendly officials has been a setback in the war on Islamic Terror as it involves the loss of cooperation and coordination with the Turkish government. The Erdogan government is now more interested in killing Kurdish fighters than ISIS terrorists.
Erdogan’s power-grab may very well compromise the National Security of European countries and ultimately the United States. If Turkey decides to shut down Incirlik Air Base, the Islamic State will have its Caliphate.