(Dr. John Sutherlin) - One of America’s most important Middle East allies and a NATO partner finds itself in turmoil again.

Turkey, a country of 75 million people, mostly Muslim, has a secular government and is led by Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.  His coalition government is the result of a shaky alliance to balance the influence of religious and secular powers in Ankara.  The religious drive to reshape Turkey is led by Fethullah Gulen, who actually lives in the US.

In the past three years, many Muslim states in the Middle East have experience instability and some, like Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, have succumbed to internal pressures and collapsed.  Syria, which lies on the southern border with Turkey, has been embroiled in a political free-fall for at least 2 years and is seeing widespread civilian violence resulting in hundreds of thousands of refugees --- many of which fled to Turkey for safety and shelter.

According to Atilla Yesilada, an Istanbul-based political analyst with Global Source Partners,

“This is the point of no return…both sides have developed so much suspicion of other’s motives that this is now all out war. Erdogan cannot allow the Gulen ‘church’ to operate freely after this.”

Just this week, several of Erdogan’s cabinet members have resigned in protest.  Even the Turkish military is now openly talking about their role in this process.

Turkey represents one of the largest economies in the Middle East and a future member of the European Union. Alleged corruption has been the most recent spark igniting a decades old debate between the role of religion in Turkish politics.