Turkish investigators grilled more than 40 military figures on Tuesday, including the retired heads of navy and air force, after mass arrests over an alleged plot to oust the Islamist-rooted government.
In the most dramatic move to date against the armed forces, anti-terror police detained the suspects Monday over a purported plan codenamed "Operation Sledgehammer", drawn up in 2003 soon after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power.
Investigators say the suspects planned to bomb mosques and escalate tensions with Greece in a bid to force the downing of a Turkish jet over the Aegean, thus discrediting the government and ultimately leading to its downfall.
Turkey has long been a fairly reliable ally for the US in the Middle East region. In its bid to have full membership in the European Union, it has accepted its role as bulwark against the Islamist wave in less hospitable countries it borders. A strong democratic tradition coupled with a vigilant military (for those occasions when an Islamist government has taken over the reins) has kept Turkey in good standing with the West.
And yet, once again, the military was about to step in.
The Turks are at the center of several controversies in the region that will require US attention, most notably its attitude towards the Kurdish population that it shares with Iraq as well as its frosty relations with Greece and Armenia.