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Washington Post editorial: Erdogan transforming Turkey into “totalitarian prison”

Does this signify a change in stance of the U.S. foreign policy establishment towards its long-favored son in the region?

An editorial prominently placed in the Sunday edition of the Washington Post flatly called out the authoritarian president of Turkey Tayip Erdogan for “transforming Turkey into a totalitarian prison.”

As stated by the editorial board of the Post:

IN TURKEY under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the tweet has been turned into a crime, and a troubled democracy is being turned into a dictatorship. Gradually but inexorably, a nation that once aspired to be an exemplar of enlightened moderation is being transformed by Mr. Erdogan into a dreary totalitarian prison. In the latest setback, last week, 23 journalists were sentenced to prison for between two and seven years on patently ridiculous charges that they were members of a terrorist organization and had tweeted about it. Two others were convicted on lesser charges of supporting a terrorist organization.

The editors then went on to write:

The show trials underscore how far Turkey has fallen from Western norms of democracy, human rights and rule of law. Mr. Erdogan is happily marching alongside Russia, China, Egypt, Cuba and others where legitimacy to rule rests on coercion and thought control. Mr. Erdogan’s dictatorship must be called out for what it is. Even if he covers his ears, the United States and other nations must protest, and loudly.

Putting aside the ludicrous Russia-baiting and other absurdities espoused by the editorial board, the editorial is equally notable for what it omits. While it rightfully calls out the Erdogan regime for its crackdown on freedom of speech, one has to wonder if the “Western norms of democracy, human rights and rule of law” which Turkey purportedly once followed included its:

  • Illegal occupation of almost 40 percent of Cyprus, for the past 45 years, including the division of its capital city, Nicosia. Thousands of victims of the Turkish invasion remain officially missing today.
  • Its repeated violations of Greek airspace and Greek territorial waters and attempted annexation of Greek islands, often leading to small-scale battles that have, in the past, resulted in fatalities on the Greek side, such as the case of Greek air force pilot Konstantinos Iliakis, whose plane crashed in 2006 as he attempted to intercept Turkish fighter jets flying near the Greek island of Karpathos.
  • Turkey’s longstanding, bloody battle against the Kurds, imprisonment of Kurdish politicians, prohibitions against usage of the Kurdish language, and persecution of Kurdish media outlets.
  • Turkey’s appalling human rights record spanning decades.
  • Turkey’s refusal to recognize the Armenian and Pontic genocies.
  • More recently, Turkey’s trafficking of migrants and refugees into Europe.

While Erdogan has recently huffed, puffed, and pontificated against Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Erdogan’s forces continue to divide the capital city of EU member state Cyprus.

Nevertheless, even this relatively mild criticism of Turkey is relatively unprecedented for the establishment press of the United States, and follows the footsteps of other establishment outlets which have also questioned the alliance with Turkey, such as this recent Huffington Post piece calling for Turkey to be booted out of NATO. Even this piece though makes no mention of Erdogan’s aggression towards Cyprus or towards EU and NATO member Greece.

The slogan of the Washington Post is “democracy dies in darkness,” and one has to wonder whether it is democracy that the Post and its editors and ownership (Jeff Bezos of Amazon and CIA fame) believe in, or darkness.

Looks like it’s one tiny step at a time in the foreign policy establishment’s twelve step recovery plan to overcome their obsession with “favored son” Turkey…

What do you think?

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