US Credibility at Stake amid Mounting Tensions with Turkey

By Konstantinos Apostolou-Katsaros

There are some countries where a single predicament highlights what is wrong with their internal and foreign affairs. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s threat to expel 10 Western ambassadors has been withdrawn: Turkey though is still experiencing a continuous human rights crisis.


The joint statement by the ambassadors of the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and New Zealand calling for the release of billionaire activist Osman Kavala was an alarming reality check.


Kavala is accused of involvement in the 2016 failed coup attempt as well as financing and organizing the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Istanbul.

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Turkish courts detained him in prison without conviction, disregarding the European Court of Human Rights ruling for his release, fuelling the dispute with Western countries that are deeply concerned about the human rights situation.
Back in 2020, Joe Biden – then presidential candidate – called the Turkish leader an “autocrat” who should “pay a price” for his repression. Ankara was then quick to condemn the comment as “interventionist.”


On October 31st, 2021 President Biden met with Erdoğan – the second time in five months – on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Rome. “The President made clear his desire to have constructive relations with Turkey and to find an effective way to manage our disagreements,” as told to reporters by a senior staff member from the Biden administration.


Amongst topics discussed were human rights and Turkey’s request to purchase 40 F-16 and nearly 80 modernization kits for existing fighter jets. Notably, both topics are interrelated since weapons sales on repressive regimes are incompatible with US foreign policy. In fact, bilateral relations between the United States and Turkey have been long strained over human rights.

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