It is difficult to be a Turkish diplomat
It must be a very difficult job to be a Turkish diplomat anywhere on this planet. Was it any different for other Turkish bureaucrats? Probably not, but could anyone be a better example of the situation “between the devil and the deep blue sea” than the Turkish ambassador to Washington?
How could an ambassador ask the president, the top security official of the president or the security guards presumably providing the president’s security to “behave well?” If someone comes from a background of total surrender to a leader, has been taught to walk over all norms, values and even laws to appease the leader, what might it mean to expect a security guard to abide by American law? Difficult, is it not? Particularly if the “leader” or the executive assumed to relay the leader’s orders, had asked security guards to walk on demonstrators and if necessary, apply force to disperse or silence them, then who to blame? The security guard or the official who had ordered that action?
Anyhow, could it be possible to avoid a clash of mentality, understanding of the law, perceptions and norms, if and when, from a slightly-opened, tinted limousine window, guards were given the sign to “go ahead” and attack demonstrators? Yet, the ambassador is expected and indeed paid for to 1- criticize the American authorities of not taking adequate measures to protect the Turkish president and his entourage; 2- to protest United States authorities while providing security to the Turkish president, acting in a way that contravenes the diplomatic code of conduct and neglecting his security, and 3- complain that legal actions taken against the president’s security reflected the absence of law. If those presidential guards ever enter the U.S. they might be arrested. The Turkish president, the government and the ambassador to the U.S. might feel infuriated with such a subpoena, but equality of all in front of the law is a principle that even the U.S. president cannot negate with an executive order.
The visa crisis was just another headache. How the Americans decided to ridicule the Turks by suspending the visa application process and the complaints regarding the arrest of a Turkish national working for the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul might make a thriller novel. How the crisis was partially resolved just when the Turkish prime minister was heading on a trip to Washington could just as well be a very good synopsis for a diplomacy film. Could Turkey offer impunity to the American and Turkish staff of U.S. missions to Turkey? If the U.S. informs reporters that processing visa applications were partially resumed after Turkey assured and guaranteed the U.S. no such arrest would be made before official communication on the issue with the embassy, I would say there is a comeback, yet limited, return of the capitulations. The Turkish envoy to the U.S. would flatly deny such a compromise was made and Turkish officials back home would decry it, saying such a development would be a clear contravention of respect to the independence of the Turkish judiciary. If, from some back channels, Americans reaffirm that Turkey gave the specific concession of impunity to Americans and Turks employed at U.S. missions, what else would the Turkish ambassador do other than deny such a thing ever happened? Would he himself believe the accuracy of such a statement? Probably, but facts speak louder than statements of denial.
Was it in March 2017 when it was alleged that a White House national security advisor and his son were involved in a $15 million deal to hijack the U.S. based-leader of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) to Turkey? The Wall Street Journal has now reported that investigators working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the Russia investigation discovered that former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn met with Turkish representatives twice last year. According to allegations last December, Flynn and his son Michael Flynn Jr. were offered $15 million to kidnap Fethullah Gülen from his multimillion-dollar complex in Pennsylvania and illegally send him to Turkey. As odd as it may seem, similar operations have been speculated to have taken place all along, but the other way round. American secret agents were often claimed of netting, arresting and hijacking criminals to the U.S. to face justice.
The Turkish embassy immediately denied the story. Why? Simple. Turkey has always been a country that respects the law. Of course, no one can come and say “Let’s be realistic.” As if these allegations had not made headlines with a WSJ interview by former CIA Director James Woolsey, Turkey’s Washington embassy was quick in condemning the allegations as “fabrications that have no connection with reality.”
It is very difficult indeed to be a Turkish diplomat nowadays.