I thought it’d be fun to write up a bulletin the way I did for my Wall Street clients. The only difference between this and the kind I used to do is that this doesn’t contain stock recommendations. Don’t hammer me on syntax or political correctness — the point is to get people up to speed quickly and in a way that honors their intelligence, but also doesn’t assume they know everything or have ever even opened a history book. 😉 I wrote this in five minutes.

I hope to expand this series, “How the world works,” to many other topics. I promise it will help you get smarter about things you may have been afraid to ask.

What’s new:

  • A faction in the Turkish military is staging a government coup d’etat. A ‘coup’ is when one group suddenly seizes government power. The Turkish military has shut down bridges into Istanbul and has taken hostages.
  • The Turkish military says it is now in control and all diplomatic relations would remain the same.
  • Prime Minister Binali Yildirim disagrees, and says his government is in control.
  • Nobody is yet sure what’s what.

What it means:

  • Turkey is a key American ally and should remain so, no matter who ends up in charge. Turkey is a member of NATO. NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It’s basically a bunch of countries with decent-sized militaries who have promised that they’ve got each other’s backs. In other words, if a country is in NATO, America has got its back. NATO members are about 70% of total global military spending. Most notably, the club is defined by who isn’t in it — namely Russia and China.
    What’s tricky about this is, which side would the US take? Presumably, the military is also pro-NATO and so other allies would stay out of it.
  • The Turkish military has historically represented secularism. That is, it is pro-democracy and believes in separation of church and state.
  • President Tayyip Erdogan has been in power since 2003. Erdogan was prime minister from 2003 to 2014. He’s been president since 2014 and has consolidated executive power. He’s said to be Islamist, meaning that he favors injecting more religious principals into the law. In other words, some people see Erdogan as being a threat to Turkey’s secular democracy.
  • It’s not immediately clear if the US is helping or secretly involved. Of course, that is not something we would ever know as it would be classified information. But the US has backed secular organizations in previous coups throughout the past century. (Update: The US denies any knowledge or involvement.)
  • Brexit may have played a role in the military’s decision to move the country back to its secular values. Remember that Turkey wants to join the EU and that one fear that Europeans have is that Turkey is too religious, and that is partly because of moves that happened under Erdogan’s leadership.

Al Jazeera