U.S. president becomes ‘sock puppet’ for Turkey’s Erdoğan – scholar

While both sides of the aisle in the U.S. Congress are united in opposition to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of the United States has taken his side so consistently that he appears to be the Turkish leader’s sock puppet, Brooklyn College scholar Louis Fishman wrote in an op-ed for Israeli daily Haaretz.

And, after a completely obsequious display while hosting Erdoğan in Washington on Wednesday, questions must be raised on whether U.S. President Donald Trump is working for the Turkish president, Fishman said.

Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria last month drew condemnation across the board from Congress and triggered moves for sanctions. Earlier disputes, including one over Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence systems, remain unresolved.

Yet Trump has remained as a lone ally in Washington of the Turkish president, whom he calls a good friend. While Trump shrugged off criticism from U.S. lawmakers for hosting Erdoğan in Washington, he was also careful to shield the Turkish president from uncomfortable questions, Fishman said.

Trump’s decision after a phone call with Erdoğan to pull back U.S. troops in northern Syria, where they were stationed alongside Kurdish-led groups Turkey views as enemies, is widely seen as a catalyst for the Turkish offensive on Oct. 9.

The U.S. president has also resisted the automatic sanctions required against Turkey for its purchase of S-400s, and has even publicly said he supported Erdoğan’s decision to buy the Russian systems.

Then, during an unusual meeting with Republican senators known to be critical of Erdoğan and at the press conference later on Wednesday, Trump enthusiastically repeated his Turkish counterpart’s talking points.

“Erdoğan manipulated Trump - and Trump was more than willing to be manipulated,” Fishman said.

“After today’s unedifying and indiscriminate love-in, the question we should perhaps be asking is whether the U.S. president himself is working for Turkey. And if so, why.”