Politico: Did Obama get Erdogan wrong?
A few months before Friday’s attempted coup in Turkey, pro-government media outlets there published reports that the United States was actively plotting to depose Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Things came to a head at a State Department briefing in late March, when a Turkish reporter confronted spokesman John Kirby with the rumor: “Does the U.S. government try to overthrow the Erdogan government?” he asked.
Kirby called the question ridiculous and refused to dignify it with an answer. There was no evidence to the charge. And when Turkey’s military actually did move against Erdogan on Friday, the Obama administration swiftly condemned the action.
Story Continued Below
That doesn’t mean Obama has any love for Turkey’s longtime leader. Though he once saw him as a potential role model for Muslim leaders, Obama now considers Erdogan a thuggish autocrat who threatens Turkey’s democracy almost as much as the generals who tried to overthrow him. But Obama also understands that he’s stuck with Erdogan, a NATO partner he must deal with on critical security issues like the Islamic State and Syria. “You have to deal with the Turkey you have, rather than the one you’d like to have,” said James Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey under Obama.