Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan wave Turkish flags during a pro-government protest in Cologne, Germany July 31, 2016.
Thilo Schmuelgen / Reuters

Two weeks after the failed Turkish coup attempt, there are still questions about the full extent of the plot and who, exactly, was involved. Still, it is possible to make some educated guesses.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has blamed Pennsylvania-based preacher Fethullah Gulen and his followers. The ongoing power struggle between the AKP and the Gulenists renders this account suspicious, although mounting evidence suggests that high-ranking followers of Gulen were intimately involved in the plotting and execution of the coup attempt. The evidence thus poses thorny challenges for Turkey and its partner, the United States. Turkey will craft its response to maximize domestic political advantages, although its decisions will perhaps have greater implications for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Syrian conflicts. Meanwhile, the United States will have to come to terms with an operational partner in turmoil and the possibility that the coup was ordered or inspired from U.S. soil by a permanent resident.

The AKP government’s complicated history with the Gulen Movement has regained attention after the attempted coup. Starting in 2002, the two distinct political Islamist movements joined forces to lead Turkey politically, populate its bureaucracy, and subjugate the overactive military to civilian

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  • JOHN BUTLER is an independent analyst with a decade of experience specializing in Turkey.
  • DOV FRIEDMAN is a specialist on Turkey and Kurdistan. He serves as U.S. director for Middle East Petroleum, a British–Turkish energy company. The views expressed are the author’s alone.
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