Erdogan’s real crimes are buying the Russian S-400 missile system for Turkey, refusing to accept US support for America’s Kurdish YPG allies and allowing Islamist fighters to pour over Turkey’s border into Syria along with a load of weapons, mortars and missiles
It needs a stroke of genius to soften the heart for poor old Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Those of us who have always believed that Erdogan is a bit off his rocker must still be appalled that a US president infinitely more cracked than the Turkish variety is trying to impoverish Nato’s second largest military ally. True, Erdogan locked up 50,000 Turks – including an American pastor, of whom more later – after the attempted coup against him two years ago, but hasn’t Egypt’s president/field marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi broken this record by banging up 60,000 supposed Islamists in his own country’s prisons? And what about Haider al-Abadi’s mass hangings in Iraq? Or that nasty little post-death crucifixion in Saudi Arabia this week, not to mention that horrid war in Yemen where kids seem to get killed all the time? Or the Israeli habit of shooting down scores of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza? Or that chump in North Korea who appeals to Trump’s sense of humour?
If Erdogan’s family name means “brave falcon” in English, the Sultan of Istanbul has certainly had his wings clipped. Or so we are supposed to believe. Trump, who doesn’t give a toss how many innocents are incarcerated or destroyed in the world, is suddenly trying to neuter Turkey – and all because Pastor Andrew Brunson remains under house arrest in there for allegedly supporting the coup plot allegedly organised by Erdogan’s former colleague, the allegedly mesmeric imam Mohamed Fethullah Gulen, currently residing in Trump’s own country.
I don’t believe a word of it. Trump made little fuss about Brunson’s captivity for many months. It took him almost a year and a half to get into a tantrum about the good Christian family man and missionary in Izmir whose chief characteristics appear to be nothing but wholesome: barbecues, picnics, swimming, movies and board games in the evenings, to quote his sister Beth, “the typical American family though living so far away”. American Evangelical Christians were outraged at the arrest of this Godly man – Christianity was on trial, of course – and their favourite president finally tweeted that “this innocent man of faith should be released immediately”.
And so it came to pass that Trump’s wrath was visited upon by the Muslim president who locked up a man who was only doing God’s work in the comfortable coastal city of Izmir. Double US tariffs on steel and aluminium helped to crash the Turkish lira, which has lost 45 per cent of its value this year, although Erdogan might also be blamed for his refusal to raise interest rates against inflation. But let’s be sane. Is all this because of a Presbyterian pastor?