Turkey: US sacrifices a 'strategic partner' for ambassador, says Erdogan
Turkey's president called Washington's actions in the wake of a controversial arrest "unacceptable." Amid accusations of harboring a suspected Gulenist, US diplomats have denied hiding him at the consulate in Istanbul.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said Washington was undermining its relationship with military ally Turkey by supporting the US ambassador to Turkey, John Bass, in a growing spat.
"Let me be very clear, the person who caused this is the ambassador here. It is unacceptable for the United States to sacrifice a strategic partner to an ambassador who doesn't know his place," Erdogan said in a speech to provincial governors.
"If the ambassador in Ankara is leading the grand United States, then shame on you," Erdogan added. "Someone should have said: 'You cannot treat your strategic partner this way, you can't behave like this.'"
Jovial gestures belie multiple disputes
May 16: Trump welcomes Erdogan to Washington's Oval Office, saying both presidents have a "great relationship" and would make it "even better." Erdogan congratulates Trump on his "legendary" 2016 election win but complains bitterly about US arming of the Kurdish YPG militia, claiming that its inclusion in the US-led campaign against IS in in war-torn Syria provides a cover for Kurdish separatism.
Melee becomes further irritant
May 17: As Erdogan ends his visit, Voice of America video footage emerges showing his guards assaulting Kurdish protesters outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington. A month later, US authorities issue arrest warrants for 12 members of Erdogan's security detail, who had long returned to Turkey. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the assaults breached "legitimate" free speech.
First anniversary of coup attempt
July 15: President Erdogan, his wife Emine and Turkish parliament speaker Ismail Kahraman recall the failed 2016 coup attempt that left some 250 people dead, including Erdogan's campaign manager, Erol Elcok. In a post-coup bid crackdown 50,000 people were arrested, accused of links to the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, an Erdogan ally turned rival. Tens of thousands more face job suspensions.
Turkey 'uneasy' about US arming of Kurdish militia
August 23: US Defense Secretary James Mattis visits Ankara as the Pentagon stresses US commitment to bilateral relations and "honest dialogue." Mattis had just visited Iraq to assess the anti-IS campaign. Erdogan tells Turkish media that Turkey will thwart any attempt by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) to establish a "terror corridor" in northern Syria through to the Mediterranean.
Turkey-based US pastor still under arrest
August 24: Turkey issues a fresh arrest order against Turkey-based American pastor Andrew Brunson, who's been in detention since late 2016. The pro-government newspaper Sabah says Brunson faces charges of attempting to overthrow parliament and espionage. On September 29, Erdogan offers to swap Brunson for Gulen. In a rebuff, the US State Department calls again for the pastor's release.
Turkey arrests US consulate employee
October 5: Turkish authorities arrest Metin Topuz, a Turkish national employed at the US consulate in Istanbul. He is formally charged with espionage and collaboration in the 2016 coup attempt. The US embassy in Ankara subsequently says it is "deeply disturbed" by the arrest. It's reportedly the second since March, when a Turkish US consulate employee was arrested in Adana.
US and Turkey suspend their respective visa services
October 8-9: The United States suspends its issuance of non-immigrant visa applications to Turkish nationals, saying it has to "reassess" Turkish readiness to respect security at US diplomatic missions. Turkey suspends its visa services for US nationals and summons another staffer at the US consulate in Istanbul.
Attempts to make amends
November 6: The US Embassy in Ankara announces that it is reinstating its visa program for Turkish tourists on a "limited" basis after receiving assurances from the government that no employees will be detained "for carrying out official duties." Shortly thereafter, Turkey confirms that it is also resuming visa services for US citizens one day before Prime Minister Yildirim visits Washington.
Erdogan claimed on Thursday that US diplomatic staff in the country were hiding the local employee in the consulate, but Ambassador Bass denied the allegations, saying: "No one's hiding at any of our facilities."
Last month, Washington froze arms sales to Erdogan's bodyguards after they clashed with Kurdish protesters during the Turkish president's official visit to the US for a meeting with his American counterpart.
In 2015, the cover of the Turkish satire magazine LeMan depicted the German chancellor with a puzzled look on her face, sitting next to the Turkish President Erdogan wearing a sultan's attire. She wonders, "Where in the world have I landed?" LeMan is one of Istanbul's three leading satire magazines. Turkey's Prime Minister Davutoglu once called it "immoral."
The failed coup in July 2016 fundamentally changed Turkey. Since then, 150,000 people have suddenly lost their positions and 40,000 have been imprisoned - journalists, authors, activists. Many of them are held in detention awaiting a trial that's never held. The drawing shown above, by 66-year-old cartoonist Izel Rozental, dealt with this issue in August 2016.
Gülen is everywhere
Erdogan has accused Fethullah Gülen of plotting the attempted coup, and has since persecuted alleged members of the exiled cleric's movement. Cartoonist Yigit Özgür has caricatured the fact that many Turks believe Erdogan's exaggerated blanket accusations: One man says, "90 percent of all water melons are said to be Gülen followers." "Hmmm, could be," replies the other.
Critical voices unwanted
With 51.3 percent Yes votes, the constitutional referendum held in April broadened Erdogan's powers. During the demonstrations ahead of the referendum, the media was not allowed to freely cover supporters of the opposition's No - "Hayir" - position. This led Ipek Özsüslü to draw this cartoon in March. "Your resistance is calcified," says the plumber with a Hayir on his bottom.
The interests of the US
Among the works on show at the exhibition "Schluss mit Lustig" (Get Serious), Erdogan is not the only one targeted by Turkish cartoonists. This drawing criticizes Trump's "Muslim travel ban." Referring to US soldiers, the child asks, "When will we finally expell them, papa?" The father darkly replies, "When our oil is all used up."
Sex = taboo
As one of the rare female cartoonists in Turkey, Ramize Erer addresses feminist topics and breaks taboos surrounding sex. She depicts explicit female sexuality, often offending the country's conservatives. One of her recurring characters is the busty, men-devouring "bad girl." Sexuality is one of the biggest taboos in Turkey.
The state of the world
Artist Mehmet Cagcag shows his views of the current state of the planet with this drawing: Dynamite is attached to world clocks, and from Baghdad to Athens, from Berlin to France, international cities are ticking bombs. The cartoonist does not reveal when and if they'll actually explode.
Third Bosphorus Bridge
With his drawing from 2014, Murat Basol reacts to the then-being-built third bridge over the Bosphorus. Unlike Erdogan, the cartoonist does not see the bridge linking the Asian and European sides of Istanbul as a demonstration of Turkey's progress, but rather as a polluting construction project that will lead to more traffic and exhaust fumes.
Searching for free spaces
Free spaces are no longer available everywhere in Turkey; one has to look for them and even fight for them. That's the idea transmitted by Zeynep Özatalay's cartoon. The authors, musicians and painters depicted in this drawing succeed in pushing back the void. The cartoon was published in the newspaper BirGün, an open critic of Erdogan's party, the AKP.