It illustrates the scale of the crackdown led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the government of the ruling Justice and Development Party, which has seen tens of thousands of military personnel, police officers, judges, prosecutors and other civil servants arrested, detained or suspended from their posts. On Wednesday, Erdogan declared a state of emergency, the first since Turkey's 1980 military coup.
It also portends a crisis for the country's security forces. Turkey, which boasts the second-biggest military in NATO, can ill afford to have an army in disarray. The coup apparently originated from outside the chain of command, but the number of military officers implicated in the plot suggests a body blow for the cohesion and, perhaps, morale of Turkey's forces.
Some of the alleged conspirators include Gen. Akin Ozturk, the air force commander, and Gen. Adem Huduti, head of Turkey's Second Army, which is deployed along its borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran. Their commands are key to Turkey's efforts in the conflict in neighboring Syria, which includes sorties against the Islamic State militant group as well as Kurdish militias on both sides of the border.
Fears swirl over the continued U.S. military presence and use of the pivotal Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, whose underground vaults happen to host about 50 hydrogen bombs, a significant chunk of NATO's nuclear arsenal. There are also concerns that Turkey's political tumult may disrupt its military role in Syria.
“The campaign could plateau, the campaign could suffer setbacks, I think that will be part of the conversations,” Soner Cagaptay, Turkey expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the Wall Street Journal.
"The damage from this failed coup will continue to put pressure on Turkish institutions, including the military," writes Turkey scholar Aaron Stein. "The recent events suggest that the Turkish armed forces are deeply divided, and these divisions will hamper readiness, morale, and effectiveness moving forward."
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