The Trump administration is turning a blind eye as President Tayyip Erdogan consolidates his dictatorship. Appeasing Turkey will backfire. Appeasement will embolden Erdogan’s crackdown on human rights, undermine the U.S.-led fight against ISIS, while pushing Russia and Turkey closer together.
When he started investigating General Michael T. Flynn, Special Counsel Robert Mueller concentrated on his income and undisclosed contacts with Russian officials. Now, however, Mueller’s investigation has broadened to include Flynn’s business with Turkey. Flynn faces possible fraud and money-laundering charges for failing to disclose a payment of $530,000 from the Turkish government. (The Foreign Agent Registration Act, FARA, requires disclosure of work for foreign governments, including details about compensation.) Flynn could also face conspiracy and kidnapping charges for allegedly negotiating a payment of $15 million to deliver to Turkey Fethullah GÃ¼len, an Islamic cleric and political foe of President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan. GÃ¼len has lived in exile in the United States since 1999; he was granted permanent residence in 2008. The Turkish government accuses him of orchestrating the coup attempt in July 2016 and imprisoned thousands of his followers.
Iraqi Kurds were attacked in Kirkuk by Iranian-backed Shiite militias on October 15. Despite decades of close cooperation between Iraqi Kurdistan and the United States, the U.S. abandoned Iraqi Kurds who, at America’s behest, have fought bravely against the Islamic State. Syrian Kurds fear they are next for betrayal by the Trump administration.
Iraq’s attack on Kirkuk was directed by Iran and coordinated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). According to Rudaw, a news outlet in Erbil, Iranian media revealed:
After seizing Kirkuk, Iraq’s Prime Minister Heider al-Abadi is doubling down in a bid to occupy all of Iraqi Kurdistan. He has enlisted Iraq’s neighbors, Iran and Turkey, in an insidious effort to subjugate the Iraqi Kurds. The United States barely responded to Iraq’s aggression, looking weak and irrelevant.
Iraqi security forces and Iranian-backed militias are preparing to attack Kirkuk in a bid to punish Iraqi Kurds who support independence. The United States must not allow Iraqi Kurds to be slaughtered, nor can it allow a war between anti-ISIS coalition members. The Trump administration should immediately propose a 10-kilometer buffer zone between the sides and dispatch a high-powered envoy to help mediate differences.
Nearly 93 percent of Iraqi Kurds voted for independence in the referendum on September 25. Now Washington faces a choice. The U.S. can either support the Iraqi Kurds who are staunch allies. Or it can back Iraq, a sectarian theocratic state acting as a proxy for Iran.
Turkey has mastered the art of buying influence in Washington. It pays expensive consulting contracts to lobbyists for “strategic consulting services in connection with political and public policy issues before the United States Government impacting the Republic of Turkey’s interests.” Turkey also makes major gifts to think-tanks, which act like lobbyists, circumventing the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Members of President Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail beat up protesters in Washington, DC on May 16. Eleven people were injured and two hospitalized.
A Turkish election analyst wrote a private email describing “massive electoral fraud” in Turkey’s referendum yesterday. It is no surprise that followers of President Tayyip Erdogan rigged the vote. It is surprising, however, that his “yes” campaign only received 51.3 percent of the vote.