News / Europe

Turkey's Government Sees US Hand in Anti-Corruption Probes

FILE - Corruption protest in Ankara, Jan 11, 2014.
FILE - Corruption protest in Ankara, Jan 11, 2014.
Dorian Jones
The deepening corruption scandal in Turkey is putting strains on its relationship with the United States. The Turkish government claims the corruption probe is an international conspiracy and suggests Washington is involved, with pro-government media pointing fingers at the U.S. ambassador and calling for his expulsion.
 
Ever since prosecutors launched probes into alleged high-level government corruption last month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted they are part of an international plot. Pro-government media have even called for the expulsion of the U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone, accusing him of playing a role in the corruption probes but providing no specifics. Observers point out the government has done little to distance itself from such calls.

Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of the Istanbul Policy Forum claims such language is putting a severe strain on relations between the close allies.

"The U.S. is very unhappy with U.S. bashing that is widespread in this country. Ankara is bashing almost the entire world about what is happening in this country, accusing the Jewish lobby and this lobby and that lobby," said Aktar.

The government accuses Islamic cleric Fetullah Gulen, a one-time close ally who lives in self-imposed exile in the U.S., of being behind the corruption probes. His movement, known as the Cemaat, is suspected of having many followers in the judiciary.

Kadri Gursel, diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet and Al-Monitor website, claims Ankara’s suspicions of Washington are being fueled by existing foreign policy differences.  

"If the AKP [Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party] policymakers would be on the same page with the Obama administration, starting with Egypt, Israel and Syria and Iraq, the Cemaat people would not have the free hands to attack the government so bitterly.  The center of the movement is the United States, not Turkey," said Gursel.
 
Ankara has criticized Washington over what it sees as its failure last year to oppose the Egyptian military's overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, a close ally of Prime Minister Erdogan.

While observers say Washington is increasingly concerned over persistent reports that Ankara is providing at least tacit support to jihadists fighting in Syria, political analyst Aktar says bilateral tensions can be quickly normalized.

"The government follows their interest; a U-turn would make things forgotten very quickly.  For the time being, the government is insisting on this direction," he said.

Observers point out that, given its common borders with countries like Iran, Iraq and Syria, Turkey has always sought to exploit its strategic location in its relations with Washington. But Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, says Ankara’s importance to Washington maybe on the wane.

"Compared to years past, both on Iraq and Syria, the U.S. is much readier to pull back, and therefore that also reduces the Turkish leverage on the U.S. And I think this is a calculation that Turkish policymakers are increasingly being made aware of, " said Ulgen.
 
But with the Turkish government still battling corruption allegations, there is little reason to believe its rhetoric of international plots will end any time soon. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to visit Turkey before the end of January. Ankara’s intention to buy Chinese missiles, another point of tension between the allies, is expected to be on his agenda.

Observers note that with the ruling AK Party entering an 18-month election cycle, a tough stance towards Washington usually plays well with its conservative grassroots supporters.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid