Turkish troops launched a coup on Friday in a revolt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's open embracing of Islam, House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul said.
"There's a sense he wants to return to the sort of Ottoman Empire days over there," the Texas Republican told Bret Baier on Fox News.
"President Erdogan also sort of turned a blind eye when a lot of these foreign fighters went through Turkey into Syria to join ISIS and then fight against [Bashar al] Assad."
McCaul said he has visited Turkey "many times" — including to meet with Erdogan.
"He did that because of his anti-Assad sort of point of view of the world," the congressman said. "But lately, ISIS has blown back on Turkey — and the military has seen his policies as a bit dangerous to the security of Turkey.
"In my judgment, I think that's why you're seeing this coup taking place."
The United States must stand with Turkey because coalition forces launch airstrikes on the Islamic State from an airbase inside the NATO ally, McCaul said.
"We want to make sure the stability is there," he told Baier. "What you're seeing is tension that we've seen for years between President Erdogan and his military, his military being more secular, President Erdogan being a little more in the Islamist side of the house.
"With the attacks at the Istanbul Airport recently with the ISIS attacks recently, with Russia in the region, what you're seeing now is a major military coup in response to some of these policies that have taken place."
The U.S. "enjoys a very good relationship with the Turkish military," McCaul said.
Therefore, if the defense forces gain control, "moving forward that relationship is imperative to maintaining our NATO-ally status with Turkey and also protecting that air base that's so important in fighting ISIS and the war on terror," he said.
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