ANALYSIS: Why Trump should confront Turkey's Erdogan

The time has come for Trump to rein in his Turkish counterpart following invasion of Kurdistan in Syria and anti-democratic measures at home

Yochanan Visser ,

Donald Trump and Recep Erdogan at NATO summit
Donald Trump and Recep Erdogan at NATO summit

US President Donald J. Trump should rein in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a Jerusalem Post editorial stated on Sunday.

“Trump needs to confront Erdogan and demand that he changes his policies not just in Syria and vis-à-vis Israel, but also when it comes to domestic issues like his treatment of journalists,” the editorial said.

Erdogan’s treatment of journalists - Turkey tops the list of countries that jail journalists for criticizing the regime - is no domestic issue as this reporter can testify.

The Turkish dictator used a lawyer working for the Islamist organization IHH to threaten me over my Turkey reporting and later put me on his blacklist I was told.

This happened after I refused to ‘correct’ articles that dealt with what exactly happened during the Israeli naval raid on the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship that was sent by the IHH, an Islamist organizations affiliated with Erdogan’s AKP party, to break the legal Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.

Roughly 200 journalists have been arrested and detained in Turkey in recent years while Erdogan closed down whole news organizations and tried to sue foreign reporters who dared to write critical reports about him.

This is only one of the major problems with Erdogan’s behavior.

“Mr. Erdogan is a dictator with strange ideas, wild ambitions, and no restraints,” wrote Daniel Pipes, the president of The Middle East Forum at the end of October, in an article named “Turkey may go the way of Venezuela.

Pipes called Erdogan “a ruthless ideologue” whose “continued rule could bring to Turkey the political repression, economic collapse, hunger and mass emigration that plague Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela.”

Barry Rubin, the late JPost Middle East expert, and director of the Global Research for International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, once told me that foreign diplomats and others who were granted audience by Erdogan received special instructions about how not to irritate the Turkish autocratic leader.

Already in 2008, Rubin predicted accurately that Erdogan would transform Turkey into a second Islamic Republic and would cause mayhem in the Middle East.

Rubin used to call it Erdogan’s stealth revolution because nobody seemed to notice or to care about what was happening in Turkey.

In 2009, Erdogan’s pathological behavior was on full display when he stormed off the stage of the World Economic Forum in Davos after then Israeli President Shimon Peres dared to confront him over his remark that Israel had been randomly “killing people” in the First Gaza War with Hamas.

A couple of years later, during a visit to the United States, Erdogan was caught ordering his security detail to attack peaceful demonstrators who called him a “baby killer” in Washington DC.

Erdogan’s obsession with Israel is well known, at least in the Jewish State.

The Turkish dictator frequently compared the Jewish state to Nazi-Germany and last year claimed that Israeli Jews use to kick defenseless people who were lying on the floor including women and children.

“They kill women so that they will not give birth to Palestinians; they kill babies so that they won’t grow up; they kill men so they can’t defend their country … They will drown in the blood they shed,” Erdogan said about IDF soldiers during the Third Gaza War.

This remark caused the Simon Wiesenthal Center to issue a statement calling Erdogan’s diatribe “the most anti-Semitic since Goebbels and Hitler.

Last week Erdogan was on it again.

He claimed that Israel intended to establish “a terror-state in northern Syria” and that his government had foiled this.

The claim came after Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzippi Hotovely said Israel was sending aid to the Syrian Kurds who are once again under attack from Turkey and its Islamist allies in northern Syria.

Hotovely again warned Turkey was carrying out ethnic cleansing in what the Kurds used to call Rojava, the Kurdish autonomous region along the Turkish border with Syria.

The warnings about ethnic cleansing by Turkey and its Islamist ally the Syrian National Army (SNA), a coalition of Islamist and Jihadist rebel groups cobbled together by Turkey, are justified.

The SNA officially became Turkey’s Syrian proxy at the end of 2017 and its ‘soldiers’ have carried out ethnic cleansing and other war crimes says William Roebuck, Trump’s deputy envoy for Syria and the war against ISIS.

Roebuck was one of the few Western diplomats who witnessed firsthand what Erdogan’s troops were doing in the so-called ‘safe-zone’ during operation ‘Peace Spring’.

The American diplomat made mincemeat of Erdogan’s claim that the Kurdish YPG militia, which forms the backbone of the US-founded Syrian Democratic Forces had been committing aggression against Turkey as the Turkish tyrant claims.

Nor were they involved in terrorism against Turkey according to Roebuck in his internal memo.

“ Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria, spearheaded by armed Islamist groups on its payroll represents an intentioned-laced effort at ethnic cleansing, relying on widespread military conflict targeting part the Kurdish heartland along the border and benefiting from several widely publicized, fear-inducing atrocities these forces committed,” Roebuck wrote.