Friday, May 19, 2017

Another Successful Foreign Visit By Erdogan

"We should throw their ambassador the hell out of the United States of America."
"This is the United States of America. This isn’t Turkey, this isn’t a Third World country, and this kind of thing cannot go un-responded to diplomatically."
U.S. Senator (Arizona Republican) John McCain  

"What we saw yesterday -- a violent attack on a peaceful demonstration -- is an affront to DC values and our rights as Americans. I strongly condemn these actions and have been briefed by Chief Newsham on our response."
"The Metropolitan Police Department will continue investigating the incident and will work with federal partners to ensure justice is served."
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser
turkey protest washington DC
A view of a protest that turned violent outside the Turkish embassy in Washington D.C., May 16, 2017. Screenshot via VOA Turkish
"Agents of foreign governments should never be immune from prosecution for felonious behavior."
"To send a clear message that these acts of violence will not be tolerated, I ask that you [Tillerson] immediately look into this matter and bring all appropriate criminal charges before these individuals leave the United States."
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee
"The violent response of your security detail to peaceful protesters is wholly unacceptable and, unfortunately, reflective of your government’s treatment of the press, ethnic minority groups and political opponents."
"On May 16, 2017, members of your security detail allegedly broke through police lines and violently attacked a small number of protesters outside of Ambassador Kılıç’s residence, wounding at least nine people. Yesterday’s attack, however, was not a isolated incident. Last year some of your supporters and members of your security detail violently clashed with protesters and members of the media at the Brookings Institution."
"The actions of your staff violate the constitutional protections of freedom of the press and freedom of assembly enjoyed by all Americans. Your staff’s blatant violation of these rights on American soil is an affront to those freedoms, and reflects poorly on your government. We have long supported Turkey as a member of NATO, and a key US ally in the region, and we expect conduct more appropriate to our decade’s long partnership."
"We cannot turn a blind eye to these actions at home, and we urge you to hold accountable those members of your staff who violently attacked peaceful protesters in our nation’s capital."
US Senator John McCain and Senator Dianne Feinstein


Clearly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has studied very carefully Western etiquette and diplomacy and found it wanting. Not for him, advice on how to make friends and influence people. His position alone and his religious conviction renders him immune to the normal constraints that convince most people they would do well to refrain from unleashing upon critics the full extent of their powerful wrath and malevolent intent to harm those that insufficiently respect his august person and the office he holds.

In Ankara is it possible that any citizens would mount a protest criticizing the baleful autocracy of a man whose corrupt manipulation of a NATO-linked nation, intent on consolidating his power base at the expense of the continued illusion that Turkey is a democratic country viewing all its citizens equally and with the respect due them? Turks know full well that any such engagement in civil unrest would net them a tenure in an overcrowded prison system, already burgeoning with the presence of those Erdogan accuses of loyalty to his political-religious nemesis.

One of the purposes inherent in his trip to Washington to confer with President Donald Trump was to air grievances that Fethullah Gulen remains out of his grasp, living in the United States, to urge Trump to extradite him so he can be tried for crimes against the Turkish state of sedition, seeking to unseat Erdogan and remove his Justice and Development Party from power. Equally fiercely troublesome to Erdogan is the new administration's decision to finally arm the Syrian YPG, the Kurdish fighting group recognized as the single-most effective militia fighting Islamic State.

According to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, a mouthpiece for Erdogan, Brett McGurk, the American envoy to the US-led coalition against Islamic State is "definitely supporting the YPG in Syria", along with Turkey's Kurdish militias, the separatist PKK. President Erdogan would be enormously pleased were his American counterpart to heed his concerns and remove the offending Mr. McGurk, to replace him with someone who views the Kurds as Erdogan does -- terrorists.

Terrorists who fight jihadists roiling the greater Middle East. As opposed to the terrorists posing as presidents who attack and slaughter their own citizens.

It is entirely possible that Mr. Erdogan's argument was sufficiently convincing to Mr. Trump; the two do have, after all, quite a lot in common in their outlook regarding their positions and their very personal entitlements. For Mr. Cavusoglu reports that Mr. Erdogan had been assured once the military operation in Raqqa has succeeded in retaking the city from Islamic State, plans are to return the city to the local Arabs, not the Kurds who consider it a rightful gain reflecting their courage and their sacrifices on behalf of their own populations living there.

recep tayyip erdogan turkey protest washington
Security agents surround Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's vehicle in Washington, DC. Screenshot via Voice of America Turkish
President Trump appears to have felt his meeting with Erdogan went very well. President Trump is particularly amenable to hearing himself praised fulsomely. And Mr. Erdogan was unstinting in his praise knowing full well that like himself, someone like Trump responds well to a show of admiration and respect. Blandishments accomplish much; in return for compliments one responds by offering to agree to at least some of what a petitioner asks for. Mr. Gulen's fate remains unknown. The YPG will know in good time whether their unremitting loyalty to a shared cause with the U.S. will be acknowledged.

And Mr. Trump has not yet responded to the Turkish-style public relations scenario that took place outside the residence of the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, once the state visit between the two Presidents had concluded. The outrage expressed by Americans and their political leaders over this display of goonish arrogance by Turks in another country they happen to be visiting does not resonate well. On the other hand, Mr. Erdogan orchestrated casually what Mr. Trump might himself like to do, if he felt he could, without consequence.

Image: Violent clashes broke out between protesters and supporters of Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan
Violent clashes broke out between protesters and supporters of Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington. VOA

President Erdogan's security guards did not, of their own volition, belligerently confront that group of protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador's residence to express their disgust with Ankara's interventions in Syria and Erdogan's targeting of Kurds, let alone domestic affairs in firing tens of thousands of civil servants, police, military officers, lawyers, journalists and others whom he accuses of having taken part in the summer of 2016 attempt at a putsch. A video has surfaced showing without doubt that Erdogan dispatched his security guards to confront the protesters and violently attack them.

Washington police repeatedly instructed the Turkish president's security guards to stand back and desist, and they simply ignored those orders. It was left to the Washington police to attempt to separate the antagonists and to protect the protesters from the clear violence that was being directed against them by these foreign visitors on a diplomatic mission to impress Americans. The result was that eleven people were injured, nine of them sufficiently seriously to be taken to hospital. And most certainly, an impression was made. And duly noted, throughout the world.

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