Two long-time allies are drifting apart.
Ankara had good cards in Washington DC for a long time.
Maybe the United States gave Turkey too much credit as a NATO ally, or were too indulgent to Erdogan.
Now skepticism prevails.
The mutation from a darling of The White House to an unreliable ally happened over the last two years.
This became obvious when Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan blamed his U.S. partner Barack Obama for condemning Turkey’s press freedom record and connected it to endeavors aimed at “separation” in Turkey, during his last visit to Washington DC. Erdogan believes that Obama talked ‘behind his back.’
He wanted to meet Obama, which he did. But instead of in the Oval Office like last time in the picture, it was at the White House during a dinner for heads of state.
Obama said in the wake of meeting Erdogan on the sidelines of an atomic summit in Washington that he was agitated by checks on the press in Turkey, and said he had asked Erdogan not to quell vote-based civil argument in his nation.
Turkey has drawn worldwide judgment for accusing two writers of treachery for distributed footage that purportedly demonstrated the insight office shipping truckloads of weapons to restricted warriors in Syria in mid-2014. Can Dundar and Erdem Gul of Cumhuriyet face life in jail.
“I was saddened to hear that statement made behind my back. During my talk with Obama, those issues did not come up. You cannot consider insults and threats press freedom or criticism.” Erdogan told journalists, as per Hurriyet day by day. Erdogan returned to Turkey following a five-day outing to Washington.
Erdogan justifies media crackdown
Turkey has seized control of resistant daily papers and TV stations and curtailed the satellite feed of a professional Kurdish station, blaming them for terrorism-related exercises. Erdogan has by and by brought more than 1,800 criminal suits against people, including writers and youngsters, for offending him since becoming president in 2014. His latest outrage has been against a German comedian, who may be prosecuted in Germany for his comments.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has said no less than 13 writers are in prison for their range of work and portrayed a “gigantic crackdown” that incorporates badgering of media-entrepreneurs.
Feedback of Turkey’s press record looks to “divide, shatter and if they could, swallow up Turkey,” Erdogan said. “This is what I mean by mastermind. A mastermind is playing games over Turkey.”
Erdogan and his supporters incidentally suggest that a shadowy far-away “driving force” is trying to destabilize Turkey, a NATO part that shares outskirts with Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Turkey’s stand in Syria conflict
Independently, Erdogan said the U.S. as well as Turkey had edged closer in their positions on Syrian Kurds, close U.S. associates in the battle against Islamic State.
Turkey sees the Syrian Kurdish YPG local army and its political arm, the PYD, as a major aspect of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has pursued a three-decade rebellion against Turkey. U.S. authorities have said they recognize the gatherings.
Turkey is really in an interesting position, as their alliance is critical to the Europeans and the Americans. For Europe, Turkey is a good buffer between the EU borders and the crisis-ridden Middle East. Turkey and the EU have just entered a landmark refugee deal, which is seen as critical to stem the flow of refugees into Europe. Turkey has always been critical to the United States as a place to put missiles to keep Russia at bay. In 2015, the US began its withdrawal of Patriot missiles, but having Turkey as a strategic ally would allow them to return missiles, should Russia spiral out of control.
Press freedom is important. It is how the people, and the world at large, find out what is happening in a country. The truly unfortunate part of all this is that the West seems to hold countries to a higher standard, but this only extends until they absolutely need that country. Then, it seems the moral high ground goes out the window.
Image: The White House