After a tirade of tweets condemning the House impeachment hearings on the future of his Presidency, Donald Trump spent the rest of Wednesday trying to cajole his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, into coöperating—on anything. “We’ve been friends for a long time,” Trump told reporters, with the Turkish leader at his side, in the Oval Office. “I’m a big fan of the President,” he said later, at their joint press conference. Never mind that Trump repeatedly mangled Erdoğan’s name, as he also did during Erdoğan’s last visit, in 2017, albeit mispronouncing it in different ways.
Trump made no tangible headway, even though he dangled the bait of a trade deal worth a hundred billion dollars. The President’s latest foreign-policy flop was not all of his making, however. Under Erdoğan, Turkey has become increasingly brazen in defying the United States, the West, and even the nato alliance to which it contributes the second-largest force.
In recent years, U.S. officials have complained that Turkey allowed jihadis to slip across its southern border to join isis, an Al Qaeda faction, and other militant groups in Syria. Turkey then invaded Syria, this fall, to fight the U.S.-backed Kurdish militia that defeated isis. Turkey has also cozied up to Russia militarily. It has cooperated with Iran, and a state-owned bank facilitated a multibillion-dollar Iranian scheme to evade U.S. sanctions. At home, Erdoğan has cracked down on political opponents, the media, business leaders, academics, and even his own military to consolidate his rule. Thousands have been arrested in violation of the human rights principles of the European Union, which Turkey long sought to join.
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