Should we back Trump’s Turkey Policy?

Published 9:31 pm Sunday, October 22, 2017

Recently, relations between the United States and Turkey broke down to the point where both sides have canceled visas for visits to each other, and we’re one step away from breaking all diplomatic ties with one of our NATO allies. Many from Turkey’s leader to several Trump critics have blamed President Donald Trump for the mess. They’re wrong. Let’s see who is right.

The recent spat began when Turkey arrested a Turkish employee working at the U.S. Consular Office in Istanbul. The Turkish regime has now detained and interrogated a second employee and his family. Added to the list is an American pastor who was living in Turkey, and a dozen more U.S. nationals, all imprisoned last year by a regime whose tactics grow increasingly similar to the horrible actions of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in 1979. Americans and foreigners have died there under mysterious circumstances (one British reporter, Jacky Sutton allegedly “hung herself with her shoelaces in the bathroom when she missed her flight”).

The American government suspended all visas to Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded by doing the same to us, and refusing to recognize the U.S. Ambassador, blaming him for the crisis. A host of Trump critics and attacks on America’s current Turkey policy began. They claim it’s just part of Trump’s “Muslim Ban” which is clearly not the case.  Others blame Trump for not extraditing liberal Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, or for supporting the Syrian Kurds. So, let’s review the evidence, and see who is right.

America is supporting the Syrian Kurds, who are actually fighting ISIS on the ground, providing a valuable force to supplement our air attacks on the terrorists.  Meanwhile, Erdogan’s top adviser has threatened to “accidently” bomb these Syrian Kurds and any American military embedded with them if they don’t watch out. It’s all because the Kurds formed a political party that denied Erdogan a presidential majority in 2015, leading him to launch attacks on Turkish Kurds and hold a revised election that gave him a majority, and put Kurdish politicians in jail.

America has refused to extradite liberal Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in Pennsylvania since the 1990s. Gulen has used his money to personally take out ads condemning 9/11 terrorism and the terror attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, pointing out how these violate Islam. He’s so pro-American that critics in Turkey accused him of being a CIA agent.  The aged cleric is accused of masterminding a coup, with scant evidence in support of that.  Coup detainees (judges, reporters, teachers) have been tortured and raped, leading Erdogan to retaliate by arresting members of human rights organizations when they protested the treatment of the detainees.

Erdogan, on the other hand, sent protesters to help the terror group Hamas evade the Israel blockade. He had his bodyguards physically beat protesters right in Washington DC (and condemned the U.S. police for stopping the attacks), leading Republicans and Democrats to overwhelmingly pass a resolution (397-0) condemning the beatings, and block his guards from arming themselves with American weapons. Erdogan’s open border policy during the Syrian Civil War helped ISIS slip into Europe, while Turkish reporters who uncovered evidence of military aid from Turkey to ISIS (and Al-Qaeda) are imprisoned in jails. He blocked allowing America to use its bases during the second Iraq War, forcing our generals to change our plans and opening the door to slip men and material into Syria. He cut electricity to our NATO base in Incirlik which is our post to attack ISIS.

It’s up to you who you want to support. But call Trump and your senators and representatives, and tell them whether we should continue our current policies, or come crawling back to Erdogan to ask him for forgiveness for refusing to do as he demands.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga.  He can be reached at His Twitter account is JohnTures2.