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YUSUF KANLI >The rendezvous

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Ahead of the May 16 White House meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, U.S. senators and members of the House of Representatives reported to have written a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, urging him to concentrate more on Turkey’s appalling retreat from fundamental rights, which constitute the backbone of modern democracies.

Were they all members of the notorious Fethullah Gülen organization, also known as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) gang, which Erdoğan and his government loves to hold responsible for whenever something bad happens.

On the agenda of the two leaders neither press freedom nor freedom of expression might be as dominant as cooperation against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or the ways in which ISIL would be fought. Why would Trump be bothered with what has been happening to newsmen in Turkey while he himself has been in such antagonistic state of affairs with the American media? Would he indeed be impeached by the congress soon because of nasty undertakings – including but not limited to passing on sensitive operational intelligence to the Russian ambassador – as president?

Writing in the prestigious Financial Times, Gideon Rachman asserted that at the meeting the two presidents might discover they have a lot in common. Like what? Both are nationalists. Both promised to make their countries great again. Both have turned governing into a family business and rely heavily on their sons-in-law, Jared Kushner and Berat Albayrak. That’s what Rachman wrote. Both are despised by metropolitan elites, but mostly beloved outside their countries’ big cities. Both have accused their countries’ permanent bureaucracies of plotting against them, the Financial Times writer stressed.

Another similarity between the two presidents might be seen in their approaches to the media. Yet, so far, Trump has not yet acquired the power to engage in a full-fledged war with the media. He might be bashing them of being “the world’s most dishonest people” engaged in concocting “fake news.” But in Erdoğan’s Turkey, as of the end of April, the number of scribes in prison has reached 159, and is still increasing. Only yesterday an Istanbul court ordered the arrest of the web editor of daily Cumhuriyet over a news story on the daily’s website that was removed immediately after 55 seconds about a deadly traffic accident that killed a prosecutor was inappropriately broadcast under a despicable headline.

How could a journalist of 32 years be sent to prison for a headline, which he, as the editor, found it inappropriate and changed it in 55 seconds?

Was it really important whether American senators wrote such a letter to Trump ahead of his rendezvous with Erdoğan? Would it really matter whether or not those senators and representatives were “influenced” or “deceived” by U.S.-based Fethullah Gülen or his followers to write such a letter? Is it a secret that Turkey has become an autocracy? Is it a secret that a merciless pogrom against critics, opponents, and those who refuse to obey the regime of the supreme power of the country has been continuing in this country under the pretext of fighting putschists?

When Erdoğan was at the Blair House preparing for his meeting with Trump across the street from the White House, an operation was continuing at four ministries in Turkey and there were reports that scores of Gülenists were netted again. But while thousands of civil servants, officers, teachers, journalists, academics and businessmen were deprived of their liberties and placed behind bars on grounds they were members of the FETÖ gang, somehow only a handful of politicians and surprisingly all inactive politicians, were accused and detained over FETÖ links. Apparently FETÖ was unable to infiltrate the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) or other parties.

Obviously Erdoğan must be waiting for the appropriate time to harvest the “political FETÖ” or he might be considering better for his interests to hold some FETÖ-tainted politicians hostage. He probably might have briefed Trump while demanding the extradition of Gülen to Turkey about the political contamination the gang created in Turkey. Obviously, if there was contamination in all spheres including media, bureaucracy, military, and the religious affairs directorate, how could politics be immune from it?

Was it not Erdoğan who publicly asked for forgiveness from God for being deceived by believing Gülen? Awkward as it was, God’s forgiveness did not work for thousands of bureaucrats, soldiers, judges, prosecutors, journalists and others who were deceived by FETÖ…

Erdoğan would probably also ask Trump, “Tell me what you wanted from us that we did not give that you opted to get it through the Syrian Kurds?” Or, perhaps he would tell Trump, as he said in China, he would not see it appropriate that the U.S. was aligning with terrorists and engaging in a war to liberate Raqqa in collaboration with the Kurds. Trump would probably tell Erdoğan, once Raqqa is conquered, that Syrian Kurds would leave the city…

Would Erdoğan believe that? Well he may ask God’s forgiveness for being fooled by Trump too.

May/17/2017

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