February 16, 2015

80 hirelings!

Adem Yavuz Arslan

The title is an expression uttered by President Erdoğan. Erdoğan said it during the Mexican leg of the Latin America tour which he embarked on to have Turkish schools closed down and complain about the Hizmet Movement.

His remark was addressed to US Congress members; that is to say, US deputies. In a speech at Mexico’s Matias Romero Institute, Erdoğan criticized Obama’s silence over the death of three Muslims shot dead in North Carolina, asking “Why are you still keeping silent?”

But many failed to note the rest of his statements. Whereas there are scandalous remarks that are rarely heard in diplomatic history.

Here are his exact words: “Mr. Obama, why do you keep silent? Mr. Biden, Mr. Kerry, why are you keeping silent? But then, they [supporters of Gülen] find 80 hirelings and have them send you a letter about Turkey and you carry out a campaign against Turkey.”

To borrow that once-famous expression, these are ‘words that can disrupt one’s body chemistry.’

Just think, Erdoğan accuses 80 members of US Congress of being ‘hirelings-mercenaries’ and charges Obama, Biden and Kerry with ‘carrying out a campaign against Turkey.’

It’s not difficult to predict the damage that these words will cause to Turkish-American relations, which are already at an all-time low.

The source of Erdoğan’s reaction is well-known.

Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Press Freedom in Turkey
(Click to enlarge)
88 members of the US Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to voice concerns over Turkish government’s ‘witch hunt’ against media.

AKP members and particularly Erdoğan reacted too strongly against the letter. What’s more, reactions turned into ‘organized harassment.’

Having turned the 100-year old state-run press agency into a party bulletin, the government had the signatory Congress members harassed in the meantime through pro-government journalists.

Further, some pro-government journalists (!) sent the Congress members emails in which they claimed ‘Gülen is actually a radical Islamist, who is inimical to Vatican.’

Ironically, the same people claim in their pieces published in Turkey that, ‘The Hizmet movement is hand in hand with Vatican.’

There is a fitting term in literature to describe this, but this is not the place to express it.

On the other hand, that they could not even realize the huge reaction in Washington caused by their actions indicates that their thinking skill must have been blunted by staying too long in the pool [media].

According to the claims of pro-government media outlets and agencies, which have become infested with troll mentality, “Hizmet movement has bought Congress members and had them issued a letter that made complaints about Turkey.”

When you have the slightest information about US politics, US judiciary and about how things work in Washington, then you just laugh at such claims.

At this point, there is no need to explain how the US politics operates, the influence of the NGOs on politics, ‘that those making themselves understood well can have influence on politics’ and ‘that donations to politicians are subject to strict rules of transparency.’

Besides, there are neither million-dollar donations nor free trips as claimed by pro-government media.

The Hizmet movement certainly has a significant lobbying power across the US. They achieve with scarce resources what the lobbying firms receiving millions of dollars from the Turkish government fail to do. (By the way, what do these million-dollar lobbying firms and the Ambassador do, while countless negative developments against Turkey occur?)

They reach out to politicians directly through associations scattered across 50 states and influence politics.

There is nothing strange about this; if anything it should be praised.

Moreover, AKP members who have appreciated this until recently, also know this.

I don’t know what to say of Prime Minister Davutoğlu, who are supposed to be among those knowing these things very well, uttering such slanders as ‘Hizmet movement cooperates with the Armenian lobby.’

For the Armenian diaspora in the US try intensely to have the Turkish schools across the country closed down.

Who knows, if they succeed they may save Erdoğan the trouble of having these schools closed.

In my previous column, I wrote; “No one can hold a candle to Erdoğan and the AKP when it comes to tarnishing Turkey’s reputation abroad.”

Erdoğan’s latest statements have confirmed this observation.

What I have difficulty understanding is; even if we assume that Erdoğan is blinded by his hatred for the Hizmet movement, isn’t there any sane person around him?

Doesn’t anyone see that national interests are harmed due to Erdoğan’s hatred and fury?

Published on BGNNews, 16 February 2015, Monday