Turkey doesn’t deserve to be so undesired
The United States banned laptops, tablets, cameras and similar electronic devices aboard planes from 10 cities in eight countries on March 20. The list included Istanbul in Turkey. The other countries in the list are Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates; all of them are Muslim countries from the greater Middle East area.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry worked really hard on March 21 to convince Americans to take Istanbul off the list but failed. Turkish people take that as a heartbreaking humiliation. Turkish Airlines was proud to announce just two years ago in 2015 that it flew to the highest number of direct flights in the world from Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport. In two years’ time, however, Turkey has come to be regarded as a source of terrorism by NATO ally Washington, just like a number of Middle East countries.
Still, U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to receive Egyptian President Abdel Fettah el-Sisi on April 3. On March 20 Trump received Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Last week, he hosted Saudi Arabian Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman on March 14 and then German Chancellor Angela Merkel on March 18.
Trump has met the leaders of many countries since he took office on Jan. 20. Despite diplomatic and public demands by President Tayyip Erdoğan to meet Trump, the two only had a telephone conversation on Feb. 8.
The situation with European Union countries is in no better shape.
Erdoğan staged a number of official visits in the last two years to many countries in Asia and Africa, but only two to EU countries since the June 2015 elections: Belgium and Croatia.
The situation got worse after Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) decided to carry the campaign for a “yes” vote in the April 16 referendum for a shift from a parliamentarian to executive president system in Turkey to EU countries with a large Turkish population. When Germany and then the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and France said Turkish ministers would not be welcome in their countries for domestic political purposes (which turned ugly in the Dutch case), Erdoğan said he could go there and turn the world upside down. After a number of exchange of words in between, the AK Parti announced on March 21 that it had decided to abandon the referendum campaign in Europe.
In a public speech he delivered on March 21, Erdoğan said he was aware that all those European moves were to obstruct his success in the referendum but as soon as he would win, he would “sit and talk” with the EU about the relations between them amid the possible desire of some leaders in the EU to push Turkey further away.
The same day, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said Erdoğan and the AK Parti government had lost their capability to deliver. “You vowed to go and take Manbij and Raqqa in Syria,” he told the government; “What is holding you back? Why don’t you do that right away?” He was referring to how the Turkish campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), or DAESH, has come to a halt after Russia and the U.S. failed to approve the Turkish plan for Syria.
It is sad me to write all these things, but Turkey has never been so undesired before and doesn’t deserve to be so.