Turkish President Recep Erdogan called the failed military coup against him a "gift from God," and it is a gift that keeps on giving. The gleeful leader is putting the U.S., his ostensible ally, in a difficult spot.
As the U.S. has learned the hard way, nothing is ever simple in the Middle East. The putting down of a military coup against a democratically elected government should, for example, be cause for an unequivocal celebration. Mr. Erdogan, however, is a totalitarian leader who has used the coup as an excuse to go further toward dictatorship than he has before.
Mr. Erdogan has decided to go after all of his political opponents or potential political opponents, whether they had anything to do with the coup or not. Nearly 10,000 people have been arrested, including civil servants, judges and teachers. Journalists have had their credentials revoked and minority and secular groups have been attacked for not supporting the government even though they did not support the coup. It should be noted that only 34 military personnel have been directly linked to the coup so far.
President Erdogan has linked an ally turned enemy, Fethullah Gulen, a cleric living in exile in Pennsylvania's Poconos, to the coup and demanded his extradition by the Obama administration. There is no evidence of such a link and the White House is understandably reluctant to deport someone for the crime of being a political foe.
The U.S. needs Turkey's help in the fight against ISIS but there are limits to what can be done to appease a purported ally. President Erdogan is emerging as a threat to democracy that may surpass that of Islamic terrorism.