There is little question today that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an anti-Western dictator. During his 17-year-tenure, he has facilitated the rise of the Islamic State, smuggled weaponry to Boko Haram, exposed Israeli spies in Iran, pivoted both to Russia and China, cheered Hamas, denied genocide in Darfur, and engaged in an ethnic cleansing campaign in Syria.
And yet, Erdogan seldom pays the price for his actions. President Barack Obama, for example, described the Turkish leader as one of his most trusted friends and even said he took advice from the Turkish leader on how to raise daughters — never mind that, under Erdogan, the murder rate of women has grown 1,400% and Erdogan declared that a woman’s duty was to raise children, and nothing more.
Erdogan’s charm offensive continued with President Trump. Whether it is dissident cleric Fethullah Gülen’s extradition, avoiding a multibillion-dollar penalty for the sanctions evasion scheme at the heart of the Halkbank case, or ending the U.S. partnership with the Syrian Kurdish fighters crucial to the defeat of the Islamic State, Erdogan seeks to leapfrog over the judiciary and normal diplomatic processes and instead work out private deals directly with Trump and his inner circle.
As anti-American as Erdogan is in practice, he is not willing to leave to chance the establishment of a personal connection with the U.S. president.
Trump campaign proxy Michael Flynn unintentionally shone light on how Turkish agents of influence cultivated him when he authored an Election Day op-ed in The Hill about a detailed Turkey-related topic in which he had never demonstrated expertise and which contradicted his previous statements. Simply put, it is disingenuous to believe that Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin would have approached Flynn with a $500,000 offer to put out under Flynn’s name research provided by others had Flynn not been within Trump’s inner circle.
Read More: Washington Examiner