18:27 GMT25 September 2020
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    President Recep Erdogan has transformed Turkey into "Pakistan on the Mediterranean," former Pentagon official Michael Rubin notes, adding that currently Ankara is doing more to undermine the fight against terror then advance it.

    Commenting on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's recent visit to Washington, Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official and Resident Fellow of The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), turns the spotlight on the Turkish leader's controversial policies.

    "Simply put, Erdogan has transformed Turkey into 'Pakistan on the Mediterranean.' Diplomats might, out of politeness, publicly accept the fiction that Erdogan wants to fight terror but, after years of denial, there is broad consensus that Turkey does more to undercut the fight against terror than advance it," Rubin writes in his article entitled 'Why it's impossible to defeat ISIS with Erdogan in power.'

    It has been repeatedly documented that jihadis from more than 100 countries have been transiting Turkey, often without any oversight, to join Daesh, the former Pentagon official stresses. He refers to yet another embarrassing episode when journalists spotted Turkey's intelligence service supplying weaponry to the so-called Islamic State.

    The crux of the matter is that Ankara "provides visa waivers or issues visas on demand for citizens of countries that contribute to the Islamic State [Daesh]," Rubin points out.

    "Demand visitors under the age of 40 to get visas in advance and the flow of foreign fighters into Syria would slow to a trickle," he notes.

    The situation is complicated by the fact that Erdogan refuses to believe radical Sunni terrorism exists, the US scholar emphasizes, adding that Ankara is deliberately turning a blind eye to the threat posed by radical Islamists and at the same time silencing the opposition.

    "The irony here, of course, is that Erdogan has used his bully pulpit to label Kurds, environmentalists, academics, journalists, and members of Fethullah Gulen's moderate Islamic movement as terrorists without evidence or due process, and he has had his security forces detain and arrest — often on spurious charges lacking supporting evidence — those whom he believes oppose his political agenda or have criticized growing corruption in his inner-circle," Rubin stresses.

    As evidence continues to mount against Erdogan, Washington is beginning to turn its back on the Turkish leader.

    "Since 2013, the relations between the two countries [US and Turkey] have worsened," Turkish journalist Kemal Okuyan said in an interview with Radio Sputnik.

    Okuyan noted that Erdogan's tough domestic policies may finally drag the country into social turmoil.

    "If we don't unite the people then we will face a real civil war," the journalist told Radio Sputnik.

    Meanwhile, Erdogan's authoritarian rule has prompted growing controversy in the West.

    On Thursday, as the Turkish leader arrived at the influential neocon Brookings Institution in Washington DC, street protests erupted. The demonstrators expressed their discontent with the Turkish Presidents' policies chanting "Erdogan, terrorist."

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses the war academy in Istanbul, Turkey March 28, 2016, in this handout photo provided by the Presidential Palace
    © REUTERS / Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Palace
    Remarkably, President Obama had initially refused to hold an official meeting with Erdogan. The move was interpreted by international observers as a sign of the strained relationship between the two allies.

    Eventually, Obama met with the Turkish President Thursday evening after the latter had held talks with US Vice President Joe Biden.

    "The problem remains, though, that the diplomatic love of politeness and fiction continues," Rubin stresses.

    "To treat Erdogan as a part of the solution rather than the primary problem is akin to saying a sieve is actually a glass bowl and then wondering why it doesn't hold water," the former Pentagon official concludes.


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    Islamic extremism, terrorism, The Syrian war, Daesh, Barack Obama, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Syria, United States
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