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SEDAT ERGİN

sergin1@hurriyet.com.tr

SEDAT ERGİN > Erdoğan is also standing up to Obama

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Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s parliamentary group speech on Nov. 20 included a highly delicate proclamation closely concerning his personal relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama.

In the most striking part of the prime minister’s speech, there were these words that challenged Obama and the Western world in general: “The Palestinians, deprived of their freedom, independence and their most fundamental human rights, are using their right to defense in an extremely justified manner against this occupation, against these ethnic cleansing attempts. Look, I am highlighting this: It is their legitimate right to defense. I’m appealing to the West from here; nobody can say Israel is conducting self-defense.”

The addressee of these words is presumably Obama, who said last Sunday in Bangkok: “There is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles launched by militants in the Gaza Strip landing on people’s homes.”

Erdoğan’s words constitute a significant first from his own perspective because up until now on the Western front, the prime minister had not refrained from starting arguments with European leaders or European countries, doing everything from openly criticizing them to publicly sending them harsh messages.

However, the U.S. president was a leader Erdoğan had not touched with any confrontational discourse up until today. Erdoğan has highlighted with every opportunity how much he cherishes his relationship with Obama.

But the prime minister diverted from this stance for the first time yesterday. The important aspect here is that instead of using a diplomatic style, Erdoğan used a “condescending” tone with his phrase “Nobody can say…” in which he clarifies who he is addressing, particularly Obama, on the issue of what to do and what not to do.

Also, in the same group speech, the prime minister openly complained about his friend in the White House, stating that when he showed the forensic report for Furkan Doğan, who was killed by Israeli soldiers in the Mavi Marmara flotilla attack, Obama “ignored” the report.

As a result, Erdoğan has demonstrated to the region, the international community and especially his own public that he can stand up to Obama. A highly remarkable aspect here is that the prime minister made this move a short while after his phone conversation with Obama on Friday, Nov. 16, when he declared his wish to visit the U.S.

During his chat with journalists on the plane on Sunday evening on his way back from Egypt, Erdoğan gave details of his phone talk with Obama and said: “I told him I wished to meet him face to face soon. He said: ‘I’d be glad. Let me instruct my staff, let’s plan and make this meeting happen.’ Depending on the date sent, there may be a Washington visit.”

The fact that Erdoğan, who has not withheld his wish to visit the White House from the press, shifted to a tough line in his party group 36 hours later shows that he uses dual language toward Obama.

The prime minister most probably could be calculating that the U.S. administration, because of their need for Turkey, especially in the Middle East, does not have any other option but to put up with his proclamations. He might have also calculated that Obama’s mild personality will prevent him from responding.

If Erdoğan, after this exclamation, flies to the U.S. following an official invitation from Washington, then he would have both “stood up against” Obama and further strengthened his popularity as a leader that was invited to the White House right after such an incident.

Let’s see, how will Obama respond to this proclamation by Erdoğan?

Sedat Ergin is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Nov 21. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.

November/22/2012

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mara mcglothin

11/30/2012 4:30:39 PM

ILKER I finally found you the bible verse. It took me some time, and then I couldn't remember which article. It is Isaiah 60

Adam Polk

11/23/2012 10:54:01 PM

mara mcglothin, no comment about art of hypocrisy? I agree with you about trading though. unless you do something upscale Turkish firms cant fulfill the demand. my friends have an upscale Turkish marble, tile business, they do pretty good.

mara mcglothin

11/23/2012 9:41:54 PM

ILKER The American people buy a lot of things from Turkey. What are you talking about? Of course we can't buy cars or weapons from Turkey, but there are quite a few of my friends who have 20,000usd silk rugs in their homes. One other problem is suppliers in Turkey tell you they can supply a product, but when push comes to shove they cannot handle the inventory needed to sell to America. I once tried to import Zeki Triko swimwear, and nothing was as agreed upon.

Köksüz Kosmopolit

11/23/2012 10:33:16 AM

Ottoman royal blood?! Many things have happened in Turkey since you moved to England, dogan, including the collapse of the Empire and the establishment of a republic. RTE, as he says himself, is of Laz or Georgian ancestry, which doesn't matter at all to his identity as a Turk. (One of the few sensible things he has ever said!) He will end, maybe on a rope, maybe in a cell, certainly with his name a curse to all loyal to the Republic; but don't insult him by calling him an Ottoman!

ilker avni

11/22/2012 7:03:46 PM

The way you tell of good relations with any country is by trade,the United States and Turkeys relations is one way,Turkey spends billions buying from America,America spends nothing buying from Turkey.If Turkey thinks it has good relations with America think again.Turkeys trade with Iran was worth 20 billion and riseing until American sanctions,American policy has damaged Turkeys economy and its relations with Iran,after agreeing to install the radar system to protect Israel.

ilker avni

11/22/2012 6:47:43 PM

@ Mara According to you the bible says we must protect the jews,can you tell me where in the bible it says this,allso if that was the case its a shame they didnt practice this in the second world war,and saved six million jews from the gas ovens.The Jews are not the problem with the world,iyts the zionists who has ruined America with their influeance,many of the big banks are run by the zionists,the American economy is run by zionists.

Adam Polk

11/22/2012 4:39:23 PM

mara mcglothin, this is weird. when you comment about turkish Religious affairs, I remember you recommended government shouldn't pay for mosques expenses. I agree with on this. they should finance themselves.christian turkish citizen shouldnt pay for contraction of a mosque. now you say, based on some Americans beliefs American government should protect and support Israel. why ATHEİST OR MUSLİM us citizen paying for israels protection? dont you think this is twosided.

mara mcglothin

11/22/2012 4:05:21 PM

ILKER The USA could blow Israel off the map itself and you wouldn't be happy. We are simply damned if we do and damned if we don't. The bible says the World must support the Jews, so for the American people who are Christians, it is what it is and it has nothing to do with AIPAC. Between the many Americans who choose to live in Israel and the teachings of Chrisitanity, our choices are sealed. Simple. What else would you do if you couldn't blame the US for the World's ills.

david ellison

11/22/2012 12:51:56 PM

Wow!! Obama must be quaking in his shoes. America is so looking forward to Turkey withdrawing all its financial support of the US. Oh! Maybe it's the other way around.......

american american

11/22/2012 12:15:10 PM

we shall see. obama is a clever man and in the words of teddy 'speak softly, but carry a big stick'. it would be shame if the new congress, who seems much more pro-armenian, voted to recognize a certain genocide and had no presidential veto holding them back.
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