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

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora