Can the U.S.-Turkish alliance survive Sultan Erdogan’s misrule?
By Doug Bandow
An important part of international diplomacy is making the outrageous palatable. Pretense is a diplomatic virtue.
Not for Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a sultan wannabe who has accumulated increasingly dictatorial powers. He frankly admitted holding an American as a human chit to trade for someone wanted by his government.
The U.S. “says, ‘Give us the pastor back,” said Erdogan, “You have one pastor” of ours. “Give him to us. You can easily give him to us. You can give him right away. Then we will try [American Andrew Brunson] and give him to you.”
When his party first won election in 2002 former Istanbul Mayor Erdogan was a liberator. He helped dismantle the authoritarian-nationalist state created by Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
However, a few years ago Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP shifted course. As charges of corruption mushroomed his government became more authoritarian and Islamist.
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Erdogan’s rise was aided by Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in the U.S. who built a global religious and social movement (“Hizmet”). Two decades ago Gulen received political asylum when authoritarian secularists dominated Turkish politics. In 2013 the politician and preacher turned on each other.
The AKP also shrunk the space for other critics. The […]