Turkey called “foul ball” on a picture of President Barack Obama holding a baseball bat while talking with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The episode recalls the picture of President’s Obama’s “feet-on-the-table” phone call to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when relations with him were sour.
Turkish opposition parties saw the baseball bat picture as a not-so-subtle hint of who is in charge. ‘The photo reveals from whom our Prime Minister receives orders to rule the country,’ said Metin Lutfi Baydar, a legislator for Turkey's main opposition, the Republican People's Party.
President Obama was speaking with Erdogan on the civil war in Syria, which borders Turkey.
The White House tried to turn the apparent error into a home run for relations, arguing that the bat, a gift from former baseball star Hank Aaron, had nothing to do with the call.
It explained the photo was posted online to "highlight the ongoing close relationship" between President Obama and the Turkish prime minister.
"The president cares highly about the partnership and friendship he has with Prime Minister Erdoğan on a series of important issues [the] U.S. works on with Turkey,” said White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.
A columnist for the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet suggested that Erdogan should consider holding something in his own hand the next time he chats by phone with Obama -- something like a “belt or a rolling pin.”