“Turkey’s Increasing Despotism”
Featuring Dr. Harold Rhode
In 2002, the Islamist-based Justice and Development Party (AKP) won an election victory in Turkey, and the party has continued to win subsequent elections, sometimes controversially. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of the AKP, was appointed the Prime Minister in 2002, and served until 2014. In 2014, after changes were made to the constitution to directly elect the President, Mr. Erdogan became President.
As the primary Turkish leader, Recep Erdogan has continued to push Turkey in the wrong direction. At home, he has cracked down on the press, political opponents, and even ordinary citizens, when they criticize him. His sponsorship of radical Muslim teachings have led to a rise in the discrimination and violence against Turkish women and gays. In the Middle East, he has been largely unhelpful to the West. He has allowed ISIS to transport weapons into Syria and oil out of Syria/Iraq through Turkey’s borders, and enabled radical Muslim fighters from Europe to reinforce the Islamic State. Erdogan has labeled the U.S. allied Kurds in Syria fighting the Islamic State as terrorists, even though they may be the most moderate and effective group in Syria. He has allowed Turkey to serve as a safe haven for senior Hamas officials and Muslim Brotherhood members. And he has shown himself to be a vicious anti-Semite who strongly opposes Israel.
In light of the above, should the U.S. reconsider its long-time alliance with Turkey? Can we rely upon them at all in the fight against ISIS? And how should U.S. handle Erdogan’s increasing despotism?
About Dr. Harold Rhode: Dr. Rhode is one of the few experts we have in the West who really understands the mentality of the Middle East. Dr. Rhode had spent more than 28 years in the office of U.S. Secretary of Defense as an advisor on U.S. Islamic Affairs. After getting his PhD in Islamic history at Columbia University under the esteemed Bernard Lewis, Dr. Rhode studied and traveled extensively throughout the Islamic world. He speaks fluent Turkish. Dr. Rhode served with the United States armed forces in Iraq, both during the recent war in Iraq and during the Gulf War. Dr. Rhode is also famous for being the person responsible for finding and rescuing sacred Jewish manuscripts from Iraq during the Iraq war.
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