War Of Words As US And Turkey Suspend Visas

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may have praised Turkey as a partner of America in the fight against terror but his words do not seem to reflect the true nature of the relationship between the countries.

Turkey is a key member of NATO, sitting strategically facing Russia across the Black Sea, having borders with the former Soviet empire states of Georgia and Armenia to the east, and facing the trouble spots of Syria, Iraq and Iran to the south.

US and coalition jets have long used Turkish air bases for strikes against dictators and terrorists in the Middle East.

But Turkey faces real problems in being taken seriously by the US and Europe. The European Union has talks about Turkey joining the trade bloc on the back burner due to ‘human rights abuses’.

Tit-for-tat diplomacy

Meanwhile, the US and Turkey have suspended issuing visas for visits to each country.

The US curtailed visa processing after an embassy aide was arrested for alleged connections with terrorism against President Erdogan’s government – a charge which the US vehemently denies.

Turkey stopped issuing visas to US travellers in a tit-for-tat reaction.

The government then arrested a consulate employee and his family on charges of reading an anti-Erdogan newspaper and listening to anti-Erdogan radio stations.

Tillerson hailed President Erdogan as a “strategic partner addressing the causes of instability throughout the world and working to promote peace and prosperity across the globe.”

60,000 arrests

Critics point out that Erdogan is more an enemy of the free world than an upholder of democracy.

At least 60,000 arrests have followed a strengthening of his grip on power since he put down an alleged coup to grab power.

Besides Tillerson’s hyperbole, President Donald Trump has also sent a message of support to Erdogan on the 94thanniversary of the formation of modern Turkey by Kemal Ataturk.

“The US once again underlines its unwavering support to the democratic institutions in Turkey and re-emphasizes that it condemns the July 15, 2016, coup attempt. We appreciate the bravery of committed Turkish citizens to defend their democracy on that tragic day,” reads Trump’s message.