Recep Tayyip Erdogan



Turkey’s New Anti-Americanism

By The Editorial Board on The New York Times

Shaken by a failed coup attempt, Turkey’s government and many of its citizens are desperate for someone to blame. Instead of undertaking a thorough investigation of the facts, though, they have accused the United States of complicity in the insurrection. This has ignited a new wave of anti-Americanism that, combined with a sweeping government crackdown against enemies real and imagined, poses a serious risk to NATO, relations with the United States and Turkey’s long-term stability.

The main culprit behind the July 15 coup, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish leaders, is Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999 and has denied any involvement in the attempted overthrow. But the pro-government press, political leaders and ordinary citizens across all segments of society are also pointing fingers at Washington, which has denied any involvement.

When Gen. Joseph Votel, the top American commander in the Middle East, told a security conference last week of his concerns about the effect of the purge on Turkish officers, including some who worked with the Americans and are now jailed, Mr. Erdogan faulted him for taking “the side of the coup plotters.” On Tuesday, Mr. Erdogan kept at it, giving a speech in which he said that in standing by the putschists, the West supported “terrorism.”

Meanwhile, the pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak accused the C.I.A.; Gen. John Campbell of the Army, formerly a NATO commander in Afghanistan; and Henri Barkey, who runs the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center, of being behind the insurrection. The evidence against Mr. Barkey? When the coup erupted, he was on an island near Istanbul holding a workshop for academics. The paper called it a “secret meeting” and said he made several telephone calls, hardly a suspicious activity. It also ran a headline claiming the United States had tried to assassinate Mr. Erdogan that night.

It makes no sense that the United States would seek to destabilize a NATO ally whose cooperation is crucial to alliance security as well as to the fight against the Islamic State, especially when much of the region is in chaos.

While it is understandable that the Turks are rattled by the coup attempt, in which Mr. Erdogan said 237 people died, they are playing a duplicitous and cynical game. Mr. Erdogan has faulted Western nations for not condemning the coup firmly enough, but his real beef seems to be that they have expressed alarm over his use of the crisis to purge some 66,000 people from the military, government ministries, schools and universities. That is far more than could possibly be justified, and so sweeping as to radically upend the character and competency of those institutions.

American officials assume, with good reason, that Mr. Erdogan is ratcheting up his criticism to press Washington to comply with his demand that Mr. Gulen, a former ally who broke with him a few years ago, be extradited to Turkey. Turkey has given the administration documents but no formal legal request for extradition, and so far the Americans see no evidence that Mr. Gulen was culpable.

The Turks need to be reminded that Mr. Gulen has a legal right to be in the United States, and that the Justice Department would have to go through a rigorous process before deciding whether he could be handed over, especially to a country where due process is increasingly unlikely and torture is reportedly used against detainees.

Turkey’s real job is to get to the bottom of who orchestrated the coup and why. But that requires setting aside conspiracy theories in favor of unbiased fact-gathering.

The expectation in Washington is that tensions over Mr. Gulen will worsen, and could draw Turkey closer to Russia. Still, American officials say the Turks have given private assurances, including to Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when he visited Ankara on Monday, that they will continue to cooperate in the fight against ISIS. So far the assurances are holding.

Over the long term, the United States and NATO have a more profound problem on their hands: What to do with a vital ally that is veering far from democratic norms? American officials say they have begun to study options, including whether NATO might one day have to decide on some kind of consequences, so far unspecified, for antidemocratic behavior.

Even the mention of possible action by NATO would be likely to infuriate Mr. Erdogan. But it is hard to see how Turkey can be a trusted ally if it embraces principles and practices so at odds with the West, or how the country can ensure its own continued development and security without NATO as an anchor.

Article posted at

Anti-Americanism surges in Turkey after coup

By Agence France-Presse on Public Radio International

The charge list against the United States within Turkey over last month's failed coup is long and, for some, damning.

The government says the United States is hosting the mastermind of the plot to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while voices in the media and wider society suggest Washington wanted the putsch to succeed and even end with the Turkish strongman dead.

With people of all political stripes seeing an American hand in the July 15 putsch, anti-American sentiment has reached levels rarely seen before.

The authorities have whipped up popular anger over the hosting by the United States of Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for the coup, and its failure so far to extradite him to face trial back home.

And Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag has warned it is up to Washington to extradite Gulen to prevent "anti-US feeling" turning into "hate".

Yet analysts warn that exploiting such anti-American sentiment is a risky ploy for the government, given that Washington remains Turkey's key Western ally and a pillar of its foreign policy strategy.

With anti-US conspiracy theories becoming ever more elaborate, the US embassy in Ankara explicitly rebutted any suggestion that Washington had a hand in the coup and wanted it to succeed.

Earlier this month, Ambassador John Bass told Turkish journalists he was "deeply disturbed and offended by the accusations, without a shred of fact, that the US government was involved in this illegal coup attempt."

Four days after the attempted coup, the influential editor-in-chief of the pro-government Yeni Safak daily Ibrahim Karagul wrote wrote a column saying the United States had planned the coup and wanted to kill Erdogan.

"The US administration planned a coup in Turkey through the Gulen terror organisation and tried to cause a civil war," said Karagul who frequently travels with Erdogan on trips abroad, most recently to Russia.

'Turkey gets hurt'
Anti-Americanism at a popular and political level is nothing new. In 2003, the Turkish parliament hugely disappointed Washington by rejecting a request that foreign troops be allowed to use Turkish territory for the invasion of Iraq.

Yet claims that Washington is not being upfront about what it knew about the coup are not restricted to radical conservatives but held by wide swathes of society.

"The United States just thinks about its own interests. And it's Turkey who suffers," said Cihan, a young resident of Istanbul.

Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who heads the Edam think tank in Istanbul, said a "large majority of the Turkish population thinks that the United States are behind the attempted putsch", with the same idea perpetuated in the press.

Gulen's continued presence in the United States, where he has been living since 1999 in self-imposed exile inside a secluded compound in Pennsylvania, is the key cause of contention.

'Politically, it works'
From Ankara's perspective, by allowing him to stay, Washington is effectively giving refuge to a "terrorist" who sought to usurp the democratically-elected authorities in Turkey by force.

Ankara says Gulen runs the Fethullah Terror Group (FETO) but the preacher has repeatedly insisted he played no role in the coup.

Bayram Balci, of Sciences Po in Paris, said Erdogan wanted to expose the United States as supporters of a "terrorist movement" — not just of Gulen's group but also of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey's southeast.

In recent months, Turkey has been incensed by the level of cooperation between Washington and and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), a militia group which Ankara claims is the Syrian arm of the PKK.

"A certain anti-Americanism will develop in Turkey," explained Balci, saying Erdogan wanted it in order to consolidate his own public position.

"Anti-Americanism brings benefits in all countries. It works politically."

'Could backfire'
In his starkest warning yet, Erdogan said late Wednesday that Washington must either choose "the coup-plotting, terrorist FETO or the democratic country of Turkey."

Ulgen said such rhetoric was understandable in the context of the emotional shock Turkey had sustained, but Ankara needed to "begin to calm things down as this anti-Americanism will hurt Turkey itself."

"The most dangerous thing is if this anti-Americanism spreads its roots into Turkish society. This could put in danger Turkey's membership in the Trans-Atlantic community."

He said a second stage of the standoff could be much cooler, with the US examining the extradition request for Gulen in a long drawn-out process and this "burning anti-Americanism put on the backburner".

Article posted at

Rising Anti-American Sentiment in Turkey due to Kurdish Referendum

The upcoming September 25 referendum on independence, to be held by the Kurdish Regional Government, has spawned not only anti-Israeli, but also anti-American anger in Turkey. Elements of the ruling party in Turkey have staged anti-American protests, including one at the American airbase at Incirlik.

Iraq, which was artificially created in 1920, by the victorious European powers, is composed of a number of diverse ethnic and religious groups, and Kurdish territory was divided among several countries. Statements to the effect that the loss of Kurdistan will affect Iraqi territorial integrity and history are not supported by fact. Some officials in the Middle East are calling Kurdistan the "next Israel," as it is a movement by a specific ethnic group for independence, and could threaten the existence of a number of countries in the region, by oppressed ethnic groups

Israel is the only country that has supported Kurdish independence, drawing further Arab wrath, but the fact that the US, which is not a supporter, is being targeted by Turkey, does not bode well for American financial interests there, meaning that Country Risk on Turkey may have to be increased substantially, if the officially-sponsored anti-American demonstrations continue.

Turkey is also unhappy with the American criminal prosecution of the Iranian oil sanctions evader, Reza Zarrab, and the other defendants, and compliance officers who are charged with assessing Country Risk in the Middle East should be be watchful.

Article posted at