Crisis between Ankara and Washington averted – for now

My colleague Semih Idiz reports, for Al-Monitor, that ‘patience with Erdogan is running thin on the American side’, given the rhetoric he has continued to use to put the blame on Obama Administration for the corruption inquiry, which now seems to have encircled his government:

Here is what Idiz writes:

The massive corruption probe that has left Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the most damaging crisis of his political career has started to spill over into Ankara’s relations with Washington. 

A crisis between the two countries has been averted for now, following intense diplomatic contacts, but Western diplomats have confirmed to Al-Monitor that patience with Erdogan is running thin on the American side, where officials are threatening dire consequences to relations should he continue in this vein.

Never the one for diplomatic niceties or sensitivities when it comes to politicking, Erdogan has latched on to reports in Turkey targeting US Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone Jr. in connection with the current probe. 

After accusing the ambassador, without naming him, of engaging in “provocative actions,” Erdogan even threatened to send him packing. Erdogan’s attack followed an orchestrated and concerted assault on the ambassador by pro-government media trying to deflect attention from the government after news of the corruption scandal hit the headlines on Dec. 17. Days later, on Dec. 21, Aksam, Star and Yeni Safak accused Washington, in large print, of being behind the probe that has left four government ministers under suspicion.

Washington was said to be angry with Turkey for circumventing sanctions on Iran by buying oil from Tehran and paying in gold cleared through the government-owned Halk Bank. The CEO of the bank has been arrested for taking bribes and is facing a trial after millions of dollars were found in shoeboxes in his home.

According to the papers above, Ricciardone told the EU ambassador in Ankara the day the scandal broke that Washington had warned Turkey to cut its ties with Iran. “They did not listen to us. You will now watch the fall of the empire,” Ricciardone allegedly said.

Erdogan has trotted out his usual accusations when he finds himself in a difficult political situation, claiming once again that there is a conspiracy against his government by international forces and their lackeys in Turkey. Such accusations invariably involve the United States and Israel in one form or another. A day after news of the corruption probe became public, Star claimed that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, had unleashed the scandal to undermine Erdogan and his government.

The massive corruption probe currently under way has seen the arraignment of the sons of three ministers, with two of them being sent to prison, while the third awaits trial for involvement in the scandal. Al-Monitor’s Turkey Pulse has provided full coverage of the scandal…’

To read more of the article:


About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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