Talking Turkey about Obama

Experience in Egypt and Gaza shows that Brotherhood rule is destructive to democracy and indigenous Christians.

By JOEL J. SPRAYREGEN
June 1, 2013 23:30
4 minute read.
Erdogan and Obama arrive in the Rose Garden for press conference

Erdogan, Obama romantic in the Rose Garden 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

President Barack Obama welcomed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House last week with warmth appropriate for the leader of a strategically located ally which is NATO’s only Muslim member, enjoys a booming economy, and holds elections which appear democratic. But Turkey brings to this alliance conduct which undermines constructive cooperation between our countries.

Turkey has its own plans for neighboring Syria. Erdogan once sought to appease his then-friend Syrian President Bashar Assad by trying to cajole Israel into surrendering the strategic Golan Heights.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Now, as Syria is immersed in a horrendous civil war which has taken more than 80,000 lives and sent 400,000 refugees into Turkey, Erdogan maneuvers to install an Islamist regime in Damascus.

Eric Edelman, ex-US ambassador to Ankara, charged last week that Turkey “is pursuing a sectarian religious agenda in Syria, through political and military support for the Muslim Brotherhood...” (WSJ.com/May 14, 2013).

Erdogan envisions a neo- Ottoman ring of Sunni Islamist governments in the Middle East, headed by Turkey. Experience in Egypt and Gaza shows that Brotherhood rule is destructive to democracy and indigenous Christians.

US policy is to seek transition in Syria to moderate democratic rather than radical Islamist rule, but inaction by our government diminishes hope for this outcome.

Turkey has strong traditions of tolerance, but there simultaneously exists rancid bigotry in media and politics which derides the tiny minority (one percent) of non-Muslim Turkish citizens (principally, Greek Orthodox, Armenians and Jews) as “foreigners.” Echoes of this bigotry persist in Turkey’s refusal to apologize for the killing of more than a million Armenian and Assyrian Christians during World War I.



Obama and Erdogan, in their White House press conference, praised each other for co-operation and friendship. Erdogan did not complain that Obama refused his entreaties to impose a no-fly zone in Syria, thus prolonging the murderous rule of Assad and the toxic influence of Iran in the region. But Erdogan brazenly sounded a defiant note when, answering a reporter, he said he would visit Hamas-ruled Gaza in June.

This visit will contravene US and European Union policy because Hamas is a terrorist group whose stated aim is to annihilate Israel.

Secretary of State John Kerry and the Palestinian Authority have urged Erdogan not to go. Obama had enough on his plate last week that he chose not to disagree publicly with Erdogan. It does not say much for contemporary American leadership that a purported ally would stand beside our president at the White House and insist he will defy US policy.

This was not the only recent occasion of Turkish contravention of vital US interests. In 2010, Turkey and Brazil cast the only opposing votes in the UN Security Council on Iran sanctions. Currently, Turkey is skirting sanctions by selling gold to Iran, the volume exceeding $6 billion since last July.

Obama extracted from Erdogan in March a promise to repair frayed relations with Israel because it is important to US interests that its regional allies co-operate.

Erdogan has been slow in fulfilling his promise and has seemingly breached it by contriving to involve the International Court of Criminal Justice in the case of Muslim Brotherhood activists killed while violently attempting to breach the Israeli blockade of arms for Gaza in a Turkish ship. These current provocations make most people forget that since 1973 Turkish armed forces have occupied part of Cyprus, an EU member, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Obama ignored an urgent plea to address Erdogan’s siege on the press. Turkey has more journalists in jail than any other country, according to a blogged article by Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker last year. Filkins asserted that 94 Turkish reporters are imprisoned, creating “an extraordinary climate of fear among journalists in Turkey.”

Any of us who speak with ordinary Turkish citizens, as well as journalists, are told of fears of surveillance and intimidation.

Erdogan’s government fined the opposition Dogan Media Group in excess of $2.5b. The respected Turkish newspaper Hurriyet called it “tax terror’ seeking Dogan’s bankruptcy.

Just before the summit, leaders of Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists vainly urged Obama in Foreign Policy “to deliver the message that Turkey’s failure to improve its record on press freedom is eroding the country’s strategic relationship with the United States.”

Anyone familiar with Turkey’s history, geographic location, capabilities and dynamism – as well as Turkish hospitality – understands that Turkey has an important role to play in its turbulent region. Perhaps Obama talked turkey in his private parley with Erdogan. But from what was reported to the public, more candor, accompanied by respect for democratic values is needed if Turkey wants to be considered a serious ally of the United States.

The writer is the vice president of JINSA and has met with Recep Tayyip Erdogan four times. This piece originally appeared in The American Thinker.

Related Content

Trump ban
August 18, 2018
Record number of Jewish voters will reject Trump in November

By HALIE SOIFER