President Joseph Biden’s pledge to put democracy and human rights at the center of American foreign policy faces an early test Friday in Turkey, a NATO ally that has become increasingly authoritarian over the past decade. Passing this test is crucial given that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s repressive rule poses a danger not just for American interests, but also for American citizens.
President Donald Trump famously embraced Erdogan’s autocratic abuses, while President Barack Obama mostly ignored them. Unfortunately, both approaches left a permissive international environment for Erdogan to dismantle Turkish democracy and turn Turkey into a more repressive, aggressive and anti-Western country.
Biden has an immediate opportunity to change course and show support for democratic values in Turkey. On Friday, an Istanbul court resumes its high-profile show trial targeting the prominent Turkish American academic Henri Barkey and the leading Turkish philanthropist and civil society figure Osman Kavala. The men are being tried on charges of committing espionage and aiding the 2016 coup attempt in Ankara. If convicted, they face life sentences.
Read more: NBC