What Happens Next In Turkey?

by Chris Tognotti

On Friday, an attempted coup against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rocked the nation of Turkey, leaving hundreds of people dead, and the future of the country's leadership in doubt. And while it didn't ultimately succeed ― thousands of Turks took to the streets to oppose the military overthrow ― it's nonetheless a day that will be remembered, a pivotal moment that could shape the country's history and the nature of Erdogan's rule for years to come. It's only natural to wonder what's going to happen next for Turkey, amid all this fresh uncertainty and tension.

As it stands now, the coup has been thwarted, and the government has reportedly reasserted control, bringing a day of utter chaos and confusion to an end. But just because the attempted overthrow failed doesn't mean that it's all said and done, not from the perspective of Erdogan and his government, at least. On Saturday, Erdogan called for the United States to extradite self-exiled Turkish imam Fethullah Gulen, a once-ally-turned-enemy of Erdogan's who's been living in the United States ― in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania to be specific ― since 1999.

Erdogan has been at-odds with Gulen and the so-called Gulen movement he leads (also known as Hizmet) since 2013, when the Turkish president blamed the group for corruption allegations against his son, as well as other relatives of government ministers. Gulen has denied any involvement in the coup plot, and has suggested it might have been staged by Erdogan himself.

In short, Turkey now faces countless different possible paths forward, and many of them carry the threat of increased hostilities. Whether you're mainly concerned with the domestic implications ― an increased security state, and a crackdown on civil and human rights ― or the international implications, this is looking like a very perilous moment.

As Reuters detailed on Saturday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that any country siding with Gulen will be at war with Turkey, which would ostensibly include the United States, if it refused to extradite him. On Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. would consider extraditing Gulen, but only if Turkey provides adequate evidence to demonstrate that he was involved.

Defne Karadeniz/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Those questions ― whether Gulen was involved at all, and whether he'll be sent back to Turkey ― are what'll likely be dominating the coverage of this story in the days to come. It's hard to tell how it's going to turn out at this point, since it's not clear what (if any) hard evidence Erdogan and his government do have against Gulen. But you can rest assured that you're going to keep hearing his name in the days to come, especially as the U.S. considers its next course of action.