The Trouble with Turkey’s Erdogan…and His Global Supporters

Terror Trends Bulletin, by Christopher W. Holton, June 26, 2018:

Predictably, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was re-elected in Turkey in the latest demonstration of his seizure of absolute power there.

What was once a largely secular nation is now careening toward and Islamic State to fulfill Erdogan’s dream of re-establishing the Ottoman Empire, the last widely recognized Islamic caliphate, which was shut down nearly a century ago.

Erdogan’s behavior is obviously very troubling to the West in general and NATO in particular.

• He has cozied up to the Ayatollahs in Tehran and maintained their “right” to enrich uranium.

• He has become increasingly close to Putin’s Russia, including buying advanced surface to air missile systems from the Russians, despite Turkey’s membership in NATO. Worse yet, Turkey is now procuring American F-35 strike fighters, raising the specter that Erdogan could share its advanced technology with the Russians, whose aviation industry is at least a generation behind America’s.

• Erdogan has supported the Jihadist terrorist organization HAMAS and has become increasingly hostile toward Israel. He recently called for an international Muslim military force to defend Gaza from Israel.

• Erdogan has become a major supporter of the global Muslim Brotherhood and has closely allied with Qatar, a nation that has been revealed as a major supporter of Jihadist terrorism and Islamist ideology.

What many observers are now seeing is that Turkey is becoming the major global sponsor of Jihad as the new Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia curtails that country’s activity along those lines. Michael Rubin explains in today’s Washington Examiner:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/turkey-will-spread-islamic-terrorism-like-saudia-arabia-once-did

In addition to the Ayatollahs and Vladimir Putin, we can judge Erdogan by those who support him:

Prominent leaders and personalities from around the world on Monday continued to praise President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following his historic election win on Sunday.

Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party said the Turkish election results indicate “Turkish nation’s trust for AK Party and its alliances, and support for Erdogan and his party’s policies.” [NOTE: Sudan is an officially designated state sponsor of terrorism and its ruling regime is guilty of genocide.]

The leader of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, Abdurrahman Mustafa also congratulated the president over his election victory [NOTE: Erdogan has supported Jihadist organizations in Syria, not out of ignorance, but precisely because he knows who and what they are.]

In a Twitter message, the chairman of Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars, Yousef al-Qaradawi, congratulated Erdogan and the Turkish nation “for their success in the democracy wedding”. [NOTE: Qaradawi is the ideological mentor of the Muslim Brotherhood and has been banned from traveling to the US, the UK and France due to his “extremism.” For more on Qaradawi, visit this link: http://www.shariahfinancewatch.org/2012/03/26/sheikh-yusuf-al-qaradawi-banned-from-france/

Against this backdrop, it is certainly very interesting that certain American Muslim leaders have chimed in in praise of Erdogan’s sham re-election…

The head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad, congratulated the Turkish nation for the successful election, saying that a high voter turnout marked the polls.

Oussama Jamal, the secretary-general of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations, said the Turkish elections were held in democratic maturity and sent a message to the world.

The executive director of the Chicago-based charity Zakat Foundation, Halil Demir also said President Erdogan proved that he was not the president of his ruling AK Party, but the entire country.

Also see:

Erdogan Tightens His Grip On Turkey

The Federalist, By Megan G. Oprea, June 25, 2018:

Turkey went to the polls yesterday, a full year earlier than the country’s planned national election, to decide whether to extend President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hold on power. Erdogan has been president for 15 years, and based on 96 percent of votes that have been counted so far, that term will be extended another five years.

Why did Erdogan hold elections early? For one thing, the Turkish economy is doing well now, a boon to the Erdogan administration that might not last another year. But really, all you need to know about this election is summed up in Erdogan’s campaign motto: “A great Turkey needs a strong leader.”

Many in Turkey (and abroad) see Erdogan as a flourishing authoritarian who is leading Turkey away from the democracy it embraced upon its modern founding after World War I. Since that time, Turkey has also insisted on strict secularism. These twin pillars are what have distinguished Turkey from the rest of the Muslim world over the past century. But democracy and secularism have steadily been eroded under Erdogan.

One of the accelerators of that erosion was the failed coup attempt in the summer of 2016, which gave Erdogan the opportunity to crack down severely on dissent in the military, the universities, the judiciary, and in the press. Nor did he miss the chance to lock up a number of opposition members. Then, last year, Erdogan held a referendum on making constitutional changes that would significantly expand executive powers over parliament and the judiciary. It would also extend how long a president could serve. Erdogan had himself in mind, naturally, which brings us to yesterday’s election.

With Erdogan’s reelection, those expanded presidential powers can now take effect. Of course, Erdogan’s election is being questioned by members of the opposition parties, which all banded together to try to bring him down, to no avail. Not only does the opposition question the election results themselves, but there’s also the small matter of a number of opposition members being imprisoned in the lead-up to the election.

But not everyone in Turkey is lamenting Erdogan’s victory. The budding dictator has a large constituency that makes up about half of the country, which is for most part the country’s conservative Muslim population. These Muslims desire a return to Islamic law in some form. That’s why, ahead of the election, Erdogan began opening religious schools. But he’s not just opening new schools, he’s replacing old schools, changing the curriculum, and firing tens of thousands of teachers and allowing religious groups to take over. This isn’t mere pandering to his constituency. Erdogan himself is an Islamist who wants to raise what he has called “a pious generation.” After yesterday, he will have mostly unfettered powers to transform Turkey in his own image.

All this raises a couple of important questions: First, why did the United States just sell a bunch of F-35s to Turkey in the face of opposition from Congress? The answer to that is that Turkey is a NATO member. Not selling to Ankara would be an affront to a supposed ally. But, as Turkey moves ever further toward authoritarianism and away from democracy, another question inevitably hovers on the horizon: why is Turkey still a member of NATO, and how long can that last?

Megan G. Oprea is the managing editor of the Texas National Security Review. She is a senior contributor to The Federalist and editor of the foreign policy newsletter INBOUND. She holds a PhD in French linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. You can follow her on Twitter.

Erdogan Predicts ‘War Between the Cross and Crescent’ over Austria Mosque Closures

ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty

Breitbart, by Simon Kent, June 10, 2018:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attacked Austria’s impending closure of mosques and consequent expulsion of Turkish-funded imams, saying the move is anti-Islamic while promising a response.

“These measures taken by the Austrian prime minister are, I fear, leading the world towards a war between the cross and the crescent,” Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul covered by AFP.

Austria’s populist government made the announcement on Friday morning at a press conference as part of the governing coalition’s campaign against radical Islamic ideology and the influence of countries like Turkey in the Austrian Islamic community, Kronen Zeitung reports.

Media reports that between 40 and 60 imams, including their families, could be expelled in total. The imams all stand accused of receiving funding from abroad. Official investigations have been launched in 11 cases. Two of the imams had already been denied extensions to their residency permits.

Among the mosques facing closure is the Mosque of the Grey Wolves on Antonsplatz, in the working-class Vienna district of Favoriten, where the Gallipoli reenactment took place.

The other six mosques are in Vienna, Upper Austria and Carinthia, in all of which hardline salafist teachings are said to be widespread.

Mr. Erdogan, speaking Saturday, said: “They say they’re going to kick our religious men out of Austria. Do you think we will not react if you do such a thing?”

“That means we’re going to have to do something,” he added without elaborating.

Around 360,000 people of Turkish origin live in Austria, including 117,000 Turkish nationals.

Relations between Ankara and Vienna have been strained since a failed coup against Erdogan in 2016 which was followed by a wave of arrests. Mr. Erdogan’s speech precedes presidential and legislative elections on June 24 in which he faces stiff opposition.

During last year’s Turkish referendum on expanding the president’s powers, tensions ran high between Vienna and Ankara after Austria said it would not allow campaign-related events.

The new policy comes after a number of scandals involving mosques in Austria, including one in which Islamists were plotting to overthrow the government to replace it with an Islamic caliphate. The ATIB association came under fire last week when a Turkish mosque posted images of young children swearing oaths to the Turkish state.

90 Years In, The Muslim Brotherhood Faces An Uncharted Future

by Hany Ghoraba
Special to IPT News
April 19, 2018

The Muslim Brotherhood has managed to weather many storms during nine decades in Egypt. Presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak all tried to contain and suppress the Islamist movement, which ultimately seeks a global Muslim Caliphate. But opportunity suddenly presented itself after Mubarak’s fall in 2011, and the Brotherhood won power a year later. Any high hopes among voters led to an ill-fated year under President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted from power when millions of frustrated Egyptians took to the streets during the June 30, 2013 revolution.

A resulting military crackdown put top Brotherhood leaders in jail and sent others into exile. As a result, the Brotherhood celebrated its 90th anniversary April 1 in Istanbul, Turkey, one of the group’s last strongholds in the region. It attracted Ibrahim Munir, the group’s London-based secretary general and de-facto supreme guide, and Khaled Meshaal, the former head of the Hamas political bureau. The two leaders bragged about the Brotherhood’s survival  under what they labeled tyranny and oppression.

And they tried to project a united front to supporters despite factors that prove otherwise.

The first is an internal struggle over tactics exposed by communiqués denouncing members, such as former Secretary General Mahmoud Hussein, for criticizing deadly Muslim Brotherhood attacks on Egyptian police and the army.

Hussein, an official Brotherhood communiqué said, “not only sought to stop any attempt at rapprochement, he would occasionally go out in the media to reignite the atmosphere of disagreement and strengthen division within the ranks of the Brotherhood without regard to circumstances or regulations.”

Egyptian public opinion toward the Brotherhood changed radically after Morsi’s failed tenure, dropping from 80 percent support at the start of the Arab Spring to less than half of that by 2014. “When Egyptians voted in the MB in 2012, it was because they believed they would bring a better life to all,” said Azza Radwan Sedky, a Canadian-based Egyptian political analyst and author of Cairo Rewind: The first two years of Egypt’s Revolution. “It proved to be a sham.”

The group’s future never looked bleaker. According to Egyptian political strategist Ahmed Sarhan, “the group’s local organization in Egypt has suffered severely under continuous successful security crackdown over the past 5 years, and it is now safe to assume that the leadership has been completely wiped off, most of the senior leaders are serving jail sentences, and [a ]few managed to escape to Qatar and Turkey.”

Sedky agreed, saying that she doubts that the Muslim Brotherhood can survive as a powerful organization that can galvanize the majority of Egyptians behind it. Although the group managed to survive previous security crackdowns, it now lacks the public support that it relied on to endure the hard times. This is due to its open war strategy that it is accused of waging against the Egyptian armypolicepublic officials and even common citizens.

A loss of public support isn’t the Brotherhood’s only challenge. Financial and political support from countries such as Turkey and Qatar could be affected by mounting pressure from states opposed to the Brotherhood, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose affinity for the Muslim Brotherhood is well known, defended Brotherhood activities in Turkey labeling them as  “ideological and not terrorist.”

But that support for the Brotherhood isolates Turkey and Qatar politically and economically from neighboring states. Turkey’s ailing economy and worsening relations with the EU pose immediate threats. That situation is not sustainable long-term, Sarhan said.

“Turkey and Qatar have offered safe haven to many of the MB middle level leaders, where they have helped establish media outlets to spread their message. Nevertheless, the future of the support given to MB members in these countries [is] questionable,” Sarhan said.

Meanwhile, intellectual and organizational stagnation has the Brotherhood pushing the same political agenda it offered during the 1970s. That program focused on infiltrating Egypt’s Parliament, vocational syndicates and student unions while promoting archaic social programs that don’t fit modern times. This included attempts to ban forms of arts such as opera and ballet. During its one year in power, an aggressive program of “Brotherhoodization” of the Egyptian state was pursued through major government appointments of Brotherhood-aligned officials.

“Islamists in general, and MB sympathizers in particular, will always find their ways through the different political organizations in Egypt, especially labor syndicates and parties of the left movement,” Sarhan said. “The only way [to stop that] is to open up the political landscape to the liberal parties, while keeping the pressure on Islamists.”

Techniques that helped the Brotherhood survive for 90 years, when little was known about its activities, may be less effective under Egypt’s current crackdown. Egyptians recoiled from Morsi’s rule, and the Brotherhood’s influence has suffered, both at home and abroad. The Brotherhood’s past success fooling Western sympathizers into believing it was a moderate force in a chaotic region may be more difficult to preserve.

“MB groups in exile will eventually wither away,” Sarhan said, “since they won’t be allowed to return home. We can take lessons from Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiyyah in the 1990s, which collapsed under the security forces pressure, and their affiliates abroad ceased to exist.”

All of these factors indicate that the Muslim Brotherhood in its traditional structure and cultural impact may fade away. It is possible that it will split into smaller entities.

“It will take the MB years to build a new hierarchical organization,” Sarhan said. It may be able to build an organization in exile, biding time until conditions in Egypt are more favorable. He cited the example of Tunisia’s Ennahda movement, whose leader Rached al-Ghannouchi lived in exile in London for decades before returning to lead the government coalition in 2011.

As Sedky said, “The dream of reigning supreme across the Muslim World and the whole world doesn’t die easily.”

Hany Ghoraba is an Egyptian writer, political and counter-terrorism analyst at Al Ahram Weekly, author of Egypt’s Arab Spring: The Long and Winding Road to Democracy and a regular contributor to the BBC.

Clare Lopez: Gulen and the Gulenist Movement

The United West, Feb. 4, 2018:

From May 10, 2016

Clare M. Lopez, Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy, is the co-author of the recently published book “Gülen and the Gülenist Movement: Turkey’s Islamic Supremacist Cult and its Contributions to the Civilization Jihad.” Fethullah Gülen is the head of a vast political network in Turkey that promotes theocracy and has infiltrated the Turkish state. Gülen lives in the U.S. where he has established a significant number of charter schools. Her remarks included commentary on Gülen’s erstwhile ally, now opponent, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Lopez is a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and a member of the Board of Advisors for the Canadian Mackenzie Institute. In 2016, she was named to Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign national security advisory team. Since 2013, she has served as a member of the Citizens Commission on Benghazi. Formerly Vice President of the Intelligence Summit, she was a career operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, a professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee from 2005-2006, and has served as a consultant, intelligence analyst, and researcher for a variety of defense firms. She was named a 2011 Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute. Already an advisor to EMP Act America, in February 2012 Ms. Lopez was named a member of the Congressional Task Force on National and Homeland Security, which focuses on the Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) threat to the nation. She serves as a member of the Boards of Advisors/Directors for the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, the United West, and the Voice of the Copts. She has been a Visiting Researcher and guest lecturer on counterterrorism, national defense, and international relations at Georgetown University.

***

Clare Lopez talks Iran, Russia and Turkey, Gulen and the Muslim Brotherhood, Jan 30, 2018

The Identity Crisis Fueling European Muslim Radicalization

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
June 7, 2017

When tanks entered the streets of Istanbul and Ankara last summer in an attempt to overthrow the Turkish government, people swarmed the streets to fight them off. At the urging of their president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, they pushed back against the coup, some waving Turkish flags, others waving guns. “What else would you do?” A friend in Istanbul asked me some months later. “When your government and your country are attacked, you fight back. It’s to be expected.”

Less expected, however, were the crowds of Turkish-Europeans who also took to the streets in cities like Rotterdam, where dozens demonstrated on the city’s Erasmus Bridge, waving Turkish flags and, in some cases, crying out “Allahu Akbar.” For many non-Turkish Europeans, the action felt almost threatening: Were these people Turkish or European? Could they reasonably be both? Or did they represent a fifth column, aiming to overtake Europe from within?

In Holland, members of Leefbaar Rotterdam (Livable Rotterdam), the populist political party founded by the late Pim Fortuyn, determined to address the issue head-on. They held a public panel discussion last week to debate the question of who these demonstrators were: traitors? Dual citizens with torn allegiances? Could they be true to both their Turkish heritage and to the Dutch culture in which they were born and raised?

Left unspoken were the more pressing questions, the ones the non-Turks really meant: do Dutch Turks identify more with the Islamist policies and values of Erdogan and his regime, or with the secular Enlightenment, the democratic culture of the West? What, after all, to think of the fact that the vast majority of European Turks voted for Erdogan in the November 2015 elections, and again voted against democracy in Turkey’s April 16 referendum, which gave him virtually limitless powers until 2029?

While this particular debate took place in Rotterdam, once the home of the Renaissance humanist Erasmus, these questions have hovered over all of Europe since the 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid and, even more, the 2005 attacks in London – and not only about the Turks, but about Muslim immigrants in general.

With Europe facing a near-continual onslaught of Islamist terrorist attacks often perpetrated by homegrown extremists, those questions feel more urgent than ever.

But both the issue and its urgency are far more complex than a matter of allegiance. For many second- and third-generation immigrant youth, especially those from Turkey and Morocco, it is also a matter of identity. As dark-skinned immigrants with names like Fatima and Mohammed, they are often discriminated against in their home countries. The values of their families and their religious leaders do not always mesh with the values of their communities and governments. But when they visit their cousins and grandparents in Anatolia and rural Morocco, they find they don’t fit in there, either.

Many counterterrorism experts maintain that this situation makes Muslim European youth especially vulnerable to radicalization and recruitment by terror groups. As Belgian-Palestinian jihad expert Montasser AIDe’emeh has noted of Belgian Moroccan extremists such as the Paris and Brussels attackers, “The Islamic State is giving them what the Belgian government can’t give them – identity, structure. They don’t feel Moroccan or Belgian. They don’t feel part of either society.” And speaking to PBS’s Judy Woodruff, Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, observed that “the cause [of radicalization] is ultimately a conflict of identity. It is about second- or third-generation descendants of Muslim immigrants no longer feeling at home in their parents’ or grandparents’ culture, at the same time not being accepted into European societies.”

If this is true, then what to make of the Turkish-European dual citizens choosing, as most have, to support Erdogan’s Islamist policies while living in the liberal West? Are they integrated, assimilated, into the cultures in which they live, as most insisted during the Rotterdam debate? Or are they rather true to the norms of a Turkey that is becoming increasingly religious, turning increasingly eastward, and to a president who is gradually unraveling the secular Western vision of the republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk?

At the same time, does waving the Turkish flag when the country is attacked mean they are not actually Dutch? Should Dutch Jews not fly the flag of Israel, or Dutch-Americans have left their stars and stripes at home after 9/11?

“It’s more than just flags,” Ebru Umar, a Dutch-Turkish journalist who moderated last week’s event, explained in an e-mail. “The flags symbolize who they are…. They claim to be soldiers of Erdogan.” Hence, she said, “the people [demonstrating] on the [Erasmus] bridge were and are seen as not integrated. Ask them and they’ll answer they are integrated. And [yet] they tell you of course they adore Erdogan.” Indeed, she noted, they even stated it at the debate: “‘You can’t ask a child whom they love more: mum or dad.'”

It is a false equivalency, however. This is not about loving one parent more than another, but about accepting one of two opposing sets of values: those of secular democracies, or those of Islamist theocracies. There is no combining the two. There is no compromise.

Which is what makes these questions so very critical right now – not just for the Dutch, but for all Europeans, as they confront a complex, existential dilemma. Should they continue to alienate the growing population of young Muslims, and should those same young Muslims continue to resist assimilation, they will together be laying out the welcome mat for recruiters for jihad. But should Europe instead accept the Islamist leanings of those same Muslim youth, it will soon discover there was a fifth column after all – a movement to Islamize the West. And it will have succeeded.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands. Follow her at @radicalstates.

A Disappointing Silence on Erdogan’s Excesses

IPT NewsMay 18, 2017:

The man with the bullhorn already had been knocked to the ground, repeatedly kicked and beaten. Then the man with a mustache, wearing a sharp suit and a handgun on his hip, raced up and launched a fierce kick, hitting the man with the bullhorn square in the face.

The man with the bullhorn was protesting visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The man with the mustache is an Erdogan bodyguard. This beat-down, captured on video by the Voice of America, took place Tuesday, just 1.4 miles from the White House, where Erdogan met with President Trump.

Nine people were injured, including two who required hospitalization. A similar, but smaller brawl broke out last year when Erdogan was greeted by protesters outside a speech at the Brookings Institution.

The State Department issued a statement Wednesday saying it would tell the Turkish government that it is “concerned by the violent incidents …. Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest.”

It’s difficult these days for stories outside the White House’s struggle to contain the Russia investigation to gain much traction.

But events in and near the White House Tuesday should not get lost in the shuffle. Even without the violence by Erdogan’s goon squad, his White House visit should concern those who expected the Trump administration to follow through on its tough talk about confronting radical Islam.

For all the talk about naming radical Islamic terrorism where it exists, there appears to have been no mention of Turkey’s ongoing support for the Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist offshoot Hamas. Rather, President Trump publicly lauded Erdogan, saying it was an honor to host him and that he looked forward to working together to create Middle East peace.

Erdogan is a favorite of U.S.-based Islamists, especially those with Muslim Brotherhood links, like Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad. That may be due, at least in part, to his view that Hamas is not a terrorist group, but a national liberation movement.

Erdogan provided a safe haven for Hamas operative Salah Arouri even after Arouri was implicated in the deadly kidnapping of three Israeli teens that led to the summer 2014 war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. In that conflict, Erdogan predicted that Israel would “drown in the blood that they shed,” and likened the Jewish state to Adolph Hitler: “Just like Hitler tried to create a pure Aryan race in Germany, the State of Israel is pursuing the same goals right now.”

Arouri was asked to leave Turkey only last year, as part of an effort to restore diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey – relations Erdogan severed in 2010.

But that doesn’t mean Erdogan has turned a corner. In February, Turkey hosted a meeting of Hamas officials and affiliates. Last week, Erdogan repeated the baseless claim that Israel is an apartheid state, asking, “What’s the difference in Israel’s current practices from the racist and discriminatory policies implemented towards the blacks in America in the past, and in South Africa more recently?”

The ignorant talking point ignores the equal voting rights enjoyed by Israeli Arabs. The International Committee of the Red Cross rejected Erdogan’s rhetoric outright: “There isn’t a regime here that is based on the superiority of one race over another; there is no disenfranchisement of basic human rights based on so-called racial inferiority.”

In addition, Erdogan was slow to stem the tide of foreign fighters crossing his border in order to join ISIS in Syria. When he does act, he often targets U.S.-backed Kurdish forces fighting ISIS – a stateless minority Turkey oppresses.

While Erdogan and Trump praised each other publicly, ABC reports that “they made little progress to deal with their sharp differences on issues like terrorism and Syria.”

Erdogan, meanwhile, has purged tens of thousands of government employees, teachers and jailed scores of journalists in a clamp-down on any potential opposition. His crackdown is not limited to his own borders, as European critics have been targeted for arrest and surveillance.

Under his rule, Turkey’s secular education system has been weakened as religious training schools known as imam hatip grew more than 15 times in enrollment since 2003. His radical Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) wants Turkey to be governed by an Islamist authority that demands adherence to strict religious tenets.

The White House meeting lasted about 20 minutes, McClatchy reports. Beforehand, 81 members of Congress issued a statement urging the president to raise Erdogan’s human rights abuses in the meeting.

“Erdogan and his allies have mounted an assault on the rule of law, particularly using sweeping state of emergency authorities to stifle fundamental rights including free speech, undermine the independence of the judiciary, and quash any opposition to their undemocratic actions,” they wrote.

There is no indication whether that topic was discussed. After the meeting, Erdogan expressed appreciation for the president’s hospitality. That’s fine, but the failure to openly challenge Erdogan’s increasingly Islamist, authoritarian direction is disappointing. Turkey’s help is needed in the fight against ISIS. But if the United States intends to confront radical Islam, it missed a golden opportunity on Tuesday.

President Trump did ask that Turkey release jailed American pastor Andrew Brunson, the White House readout of the meeting said. The two leaders also plan to meet again next week during the president’s first official international trip.

Unless he challenges Erdogan then, the lasting images of this will be the unprovoked violence Erdogan’s armed bodyguards inflicted on peaceful demonstrators in the heart of the nation’s capital instead of a direct and honest challenge to Erdogan’s ongoing and egregious support for Islamist terrorists.

Also see: