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Make Turkey Great Again

Al-Okaz, Saudi Arabia, August 8

The differences between Turkey and the United States, two NATO allies, have been growing wider and wider over several key issues in recent months. An op-ed published in the New York Times last week, written by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, warned the American president that he must respect Turkey’s sovereignty. U.S. President Donald Trump, on his end, announced new tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum, causing the value of the Turkish Lira to plunge 14% versus the U.S. dollar. And yet, there seems to be no end to this crisis. Relations between the two leaders have been shaky for quite some time now, following Washington’s refusal to extradite Turkish political dissident Fethullah Gulen, and Turkey’s arrest of an American pastor by the name Andrew Brunson in Istanbul. Yet things seem to have taken a downturn in recent weeks, following Erdogan’s public pledge of allegiance to the mullahs in Tehran; a move that instigated fury among members of the Trump White House. Erdogan expressed his support for the Iranian regime and spoke out against the American withdrawal from the nuclear deal. Several Turkish officials, including Erdogan’s minister of finance, went as far as to encourage European states to defy the American sanctions that have been recently re-imposed on Iran. Interestingly, Erdogan’s vision for Turkey is very much in line with Trump’s vision for America. Both men seek to turn their respective nations into empires that enjoy unlimited power. Erdogan, however, believes that this will be achieved with the rise and proliferation of political Islam, be it Suni or Shiite, throughout the Middle East. It is for this reason that he has been supportive of some of America’s worst enemies, including Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. Erdogan, however, must remember that he is a populist leader. His success in the recent elections was made possible, in large part, due to the improvements he implemented in the Turkish economy. A deflating exchange rate of his currency is no laughing matter for many Turkish citizens, who might defy Erdogan’s rule if the situation continues to escalate. In hoping to restore Turkey to its glorious empire days, Erdogan might be pushing the Turkish economy off a cliff, making it weaker than it ever was before. Leaders with large egos like Erdogan and Trump may envision great futures for their countries. But they may also destroy their own nations while engaging in personal battles of pride and ego. –Mashry al-Zaidi


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