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    How Will Failed Coup in Turkey Affect US, Russia's Anti-Daesh Fight?

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    A group within the Turkish Armed Forces and law enforcement agencies has failed to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but the chaotic night marred by deadly violence will further destabilize a key NATO member and adversely affect Russian and Washington-led efforts to destroy Daesh, experts have said.

    Turkey, seemingly one of the most stable countries in the Middle East, has long been plagued by internal discord, involving Islamist-leaning trendы particularly visible under Erdogan and a decades-long tradition of secularism. The ongoing conflict between Ankara and Kurdish rebels is also a major factor.

    Turkey's stability has further been affected by refuges and terrorist attacks. The country has been the key destination for millions of Syrians fleeing sectarian violence sparked in the Arab country following a foreign-sponsored insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad. In recent months, Turkey has also been rocked by major terrorist attacks carried out, according to local authorities, by Daesh or the Kurds.

    The failed military coup will further complicate Turkey's already complex domestic realities at a time when a new wave of sectarian violence has engulfed the Middle East.  

    In this context, Ankara's newfound determination to tackle Daesh and help bring lasting peace to Syria, as well as Russian and Washington-led efforts to destroy the brutal terrorist group once and for all will be put to the test.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, at a meeting in Moscow.
    © Sputnik / Eduard Pesov
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, at a meeting in Moscow.

    "The coup means whatever bets Washington may have made in Moscow are now even harder to implement," Andrew Tabler, a Middle East expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the Wall Street Journal. "We're not sure who's in charge there."

    The analyst referred to US State Secretary John Kerry's latest visit to Moscow. While in Russia, America's top diplomat brokered a deal that will see both countries make specific steps to enhance the fragile ceasefire in Syria and work together on tackling al-Nusra Front. The ceasefire has been seen as the key prerequisite needed to launch a credible political transition in the country.

    A U. S. Air Force F15 fighter jet takes off after Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited the Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015
    © AP Photo /
    A U. S. Air Force F15 fighter jet takes off after Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited the Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015

    Washington relies heavily on Turkey in its counterterrorism efforts since US forces need access to the Incirlik airbase, located approximately 60 miles from the Syrian border. For instance, an A-10 squadron stationed at Incirlik since October is responsible for one-third of all refueling operations undertaken as part of the US-led anti-Daesh airstrike campaign.

    "Use of the base immediately improved how long the aircraft could remain over Iraq and Syria, considering its close proximity when compared with military bases used by the Pentagon in Persian Gulf countries," the Washington Post explained.

    Should the Pentagon lose its access to the base, it would deal "a severe blow" to the anti-Daesh campaign, the Guardian observed.

    In addition, many are concerned that Ankara's focus will shift following the failed coup attempt. If true, Daesh could benefit from it, Stephen Flanagan, an analyst at the RAND Corporation, told the newspaper.

    "Continued turmoil could deepen divisions in Turkey. And distract it from doing more to help the coalition in Syria," he said.

    Last night's events could also affect Erdogan's domestic policies and his state of mind. The Turkish strongman "is going to be even more paranoid and very suspicious," director of the Middle East program at the Wilson Center told the Washington Post.

    Aaron Stein, a Turkey analyst at the Atlantic Council, shared these sentiments, saying that "the coup may fail, but the result will lead to purges, regardless of who eventually ends up in power."

    This is a likely scenario since Erdogan has already promised to cleanse the military.

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    Tags:
    Middle East, instability, military coup, counterterrorism, anti-Daesh coalition, US-led coalition, Russian aerial campaign, Syrian conflict, coup attempt in Turkey, Daesh, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Syria, United States, Russia
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