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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat HermantheGerman's Avatar
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    Turkey's Erdogan came to Washington, and things got a bit crazy

    Turkey's Erdogan came to Washington, and things got a bit crazy

    Visiting Washington this week to attend the Nuclear Security Summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived at the Brookings Institution Thursday morning to deliver a highly anticipated speech. His country sits at the intersection of some of the thorniest security challenges facing the world: from the ravages of the Syrian war next door to the terrorist violence of the Islamic State to the humanitarian crisis posed by Syrian refugees.
    But the event was seemingly upstaged by proceedings outside the venue, where protesters appeared to clash with Erdogan supporters, as well as the controversial Turkish leader's security detail.
    A host of journalists in attendance observed the events first-hand:
    Yochi Dreazen, an editor at Foreign Policy magazine, filmed the disturbances and then went on to tweet how D.C. police were being compelled to separate protesters from Erdogan's bodyguards:
    Another journalist at the magazine reported scuffles between Turkish guards and Brookings staff. They had a more detailed account here.
    Some Turkish reporters considered to be critics of Erdogan and the ruling government's policies were kept out by Turkish security guards. Amberin Zaman, a leading Turkish journalist who reported for the Economist for a decade and a half, was turned away and accused of being a sympathizer of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, an outlawed Kurdish separatist group that both Turkey and the United States consider a terrorist organization.
    A journalist with the pro-government Daily Sabah pointed to protesters cornering an Erdogan supporter:
    A researcher at Brookings filmed the altercations from above:
    The mayhem extended into the venue.
    A statement from the National Press Club expressed alarm at the incidents. "Turkey's leader and his security team are guests in the United States," said Thomas Burr, the club's president. "They have no right to lay their hands on reporters or protesters or anyone else for that matter, when the people they are apparently roughing up seemed to be merely doing their jobs or exercising the rights they have in this country."
    During his remarks inside, Erdogan appeared to dismiss his opponents outside.
    "People shouting in the streets don't know what's going on in Turkey," he said.
    The Turkish president used the occasion to hammer home some of his now rather familiar talking points. He began by citing Thursday's bombing in the insurgency-hit city of Diyarbakir, which killed at least six people -- all believed to be security personnel. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, though Kurdish militant groups are suspected.
    Erdogan once more called out the Western refusal to see the militancy of secular Kurdish groups in the same light as the terrorism of the Islamic State. As WorldViews has discussed in the past, a constellation of Kurdish faction in Syria and Iraq -- some with ties to the PKK in Turkey -- receive backing from the West.
    "The international community doesn't even label terrorists 'terrorists' these days," Erdogan lamented, aiming his ire particularly at the Syrian YPG, a Kurdish militia that has made significant territorial advances on the other side of the border with Turkey.
    Erdogan also described the tremendous burden Turkey has assumed in coping with an exodus of Syrian refugees -- some 2.7 million arrivals in the space of six years. "Turkey is the country that feels the pain of the crisis in Syria at the closest of all distances," he said.
    He lambasted Europe's seeming indifference to the plight of refugees.
    "The people fleeing Syria are trying to get away from terror," he said, and insisted that the only solution to both the refugee crisis and the problem of the Islamic State lies in stabilizing Syria and removing the regime of President Bashar Assad.
    And Erdogan gestured at growing anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe and the West. "Xenophobia and racism are on the rise, and they are obstacles to the development of human values," he said.
    In a brief Q&A session with former diplomat Marin Indyk, Erdogan was challenged on questions of press freedom. Dozens of journalists and critics of the Turkish president have been arrest under various charges. A newspaper linked to the Gulenists, a religious movement at odds with the president, was recently taken over by Turkish authorities.
    Erdogan largely skirted the question, instead highlighting the many supposed successes of his long tenure, including significant economic reforms and the defanging of the country's long-meddling military.
    "Criticism I have no problem with," Erdogan said, "but insult is something different."
    President Obama did not meet Erdogan on this trip, a snub some have interpreted as a sign of tensions between Washington and Ankara.


    Turkey's Erdogan came to Washington, and things got a bit crazy - Chicago Tribune


    Freedom of the press !

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat
    wasabi's Avatar
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    The U.S.A needs Turkey onside, more than Turkey wants to be on its side, so a few Turkish reporters getting their heads knocked together isn't going to harm the friendship.

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