While the experts debate if Turkey's flash coup was staged or merely grossly incompetent, a rather theatrical fallout is taking place between Turkey and the US.
Recall that on Saturday, as part of its populist campaign to blame the coup on the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, Turkey accused the US of being "behind the military coup", to which John Kerry promptly responded that such allegations are "utterly false" and harmful to relations. Kerry also said that authorities should respect the rule of law during their probe of the coup. Kerry also noted that there would be no prompt deportation of Gulen (something which is also in Erdogan's favor), when he said that "we fully anticipate that there will be questions raised about Gulen, and obviously we invite the government of Turkey ... to present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny and the United States will accept that and look at it and make judgments appropriately," he said.
This however did not lead to any moderation in Turkish rhetoric, and yesterday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim threatened to go to war with any country that would "stand by" the exiled Fethullah Gulen; this would naturally imply the US which is where Gulen is currently located. "The US is behind the coup attempt. A few journals that are published there [in the US] have been conducting activities for several months. For many months we have sent requests to the US concerning Fethullah Gulen. The US must extradite him," said the Labor Minister in a statement.
Curiously, despite all the posturing, Turkey has yet to send out a formal extradition request.
However, the tensions between Turkey and US appear to have spilled over this morning, when moments ago John Kerry threatened Turkey that it could lose its NATO membership "if it fails to uphold the principles of democracy in the wake of an attempted coup" the US has warned.
“NATO also has a requirement with respect to democracy and NATO will indeed measure very carefully what is happening,” Kerry tells reporters in Brussels after attending a meeting of European Union foreign ministers. It was unclear how that "requirement" fits with Turkey - one of the world's largest, US-supplied military forces - housing the all-important Incirlik airbase which provides the US (and NATO) with a convenient staging point for air missions across the entire middle east.
“My hope is that Turkey is going to move in ways that do respect what they have said to me many times is the bedrock of their country,” he says. Kerry adds: “I spoke with the foreign minister three times in the last days and he assured me that they fully intended to respect the democratic process and the law; now obviously a lot of people have been arrested and arrested very quickly” and “the level of vigilance and scrutiny is obviously going to be significant in the days ahead."
This is happening as none other than one of the EU's top bureaucrats voiced a suggestion that the coup had indeed been staged. As Reuters reported earlier, the swift rounding up of judges and others after a failed coup in Turkey indicated the government had prepared a list beforehand, according to EU commissioner dealing with Turkey's membership bid, Johannes Hahn, said on Monday. "It looks at least as if something has been prepared. The lists are available, which indicates it was prepared and to be used at a certain stage," Hahn said. "I'm very concerned. It is exactly what we feared."
So very concerned that Europe is doing, drumroll, precisely nothing. Why? Because Erdogan still holds two million Syrian refugees as the most important bargaining chip that allows him to do anything and everything and get away with it, or else unleash another wave of migrants into Germany, leading to another collapse in the popularity of the German chancellor if not worse.
That said, we wonder if Kerry has seen the latest news according to which Turkey has "democratically" purged around 8,000 police officers following the failed coup, with more than 6,000 people in the army, the judiciary and other state bodies arrested as part of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's response to Friday's staged coup, in which rebel pilots held Erdogan's Gulfstream in their sights and yet inexplicably did not shoot.
At a joint news conference with EU foreign police chief Federica Mogherini, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that America stands "squarely on the side of the elected leadership in Turkey," but that "we urge the government of Turkey to to uphold the highest standards of respect for the nation's democratic institutions and the rule of law".
"We will certainly support bringing the perpetrators of the coup to justice but we also caution against a reach that goes beyond that and stress the importance of the democratic rule being upheld," he added.
We, on the other hand, expect the hollow jawboning and empty threats to continue even as Erdogan rounds up tens of thousands of political opponents and throws them in prison without any due process, all in the name of the "democratic process."