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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid