Jan 30 2018

Turkey’s Erdoğan will exploit clash with U.S. in Syria – think-tanker

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will likely take advantage of any clashes with the United States in Syria in order to consolidate his own political power, a senior research fellow at a conservative U.S. think tank wrote.

“Mr. Erdoğan has exploited the failed coup to justify a massive purge. He has arrested more than 50,000 people and fired roughly 150,000 from their jobs, ostensibly because they supported the coup,” James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation said.

“Now he risks a clash with his strongest foreign ally – the U.S. – inside Syria. If and when that happens, you can bet that the wily Turkish president will also exploit that crisis to further consolidate his political power.”

Turkey being a NATO member, Phillips said, it was “especially shocking” to hear its leader threaten attacks on U.S. soldiers.

“He even threatened attacks on U.S. special operations forces working with the militias: ‘Don’t force us to bury in the ground those who are with terrorists’.”

Erdoğan’s “anti-American xenophobia,” Phillips said, had led to the downgrading of the bilateral relationship from friend to “frenemy”.