As usual President Barack Obama was surprised and blindsided by the attempted military coup in Turkey. Also, as usual, he backed the wrong side where the interests of the United States are concerned. The elected president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is an Islamist, who has been playing footsie with ISIS, allowing fighters to flow into the Islamic State and smuggled oil out of It. He has aspirations to recreate the Ottoman Empire to a certain extent, which means that he would like Syria’s Assad out of power and the long-term Kurdish insurgency crushed.

The units of the military that launched the failed coup were seeking to restore the secular republic that had served Turkey so well since Kemal Ataturk and would likely have been more forthright in cutting off ISIS and helping the West crush the Islamic State.

On the other hand, it is likely that support for the coup by the Obama administration would have made no difference in the outcome and would have infuriated Erdogan. Still, the Turkish president will likely now feel free to crackdown on his opposition even further and conduct a regional foreign policy that is at increasing odds with the interests of the United States.

Erdogan’s main disagreement with ISIS is not whether there should be a caliphate but rather who should be in charge of it.

Now that the Turkish military had failed to dislodge Erdogan, unlike in Egypt where the military overthrew a freely elected terrorist, Muslim Brotherhood government that Obama also supported, the best that can be hoped for is that diplomatic and other pressure will restrain Erdogan to a certain extent.

Within six months, Turkey will no longer be Obama’s problem. Either Hillary Clinton will deal with it, and her track record suggests that she will make a mess of things like in Libya, or Donald Trump will, and despite his boasting of being the master of the Art of the Deal, his ability to influence events is, at best, uncertain. Add Turkey to another fine mess that Barack Obama will have bequeathed to his successor.

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