Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official, has said the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a self-exiled Turkish Islamic scholar whom the Turkish government accuses of being behind a July 15 coup attempt, would not better but rather would worsen relations between the two countries.
“If Gülen is turned over, however, I suspect relations will get worse because the extradition will convince Erdoğan that blackmail and bluster work,” said Rubin in an interview published in the Vocal Europe magazine on Monday.
Underlining that the Turkish government has yet to provide any evidence that Gülen was involved in the events of July 15, Rubin said; “The dossiers it did turn over were just general castigations of Gülen’s movement. Even if Trump wants to turn Gülen over, Erdoğan will be frustrated: There is a rule-of-law in the United States and a process which the president simply does not have the power to short-circuit.”
Flynn is Trump’s first ethics scandal
In response to a question about an article in The Hill by President-elect Donald Trump’s top military adviser, Michael T. Flynn, that likened Fethullah Gülen to Ayatollah Khomeini, Rubin said; “Flynn’s articles raised eyebrows because it was at such odds with Flynn’s previous work and the reality of Erdogan. It has since emerged that Flynn did not declare a lobbying relationship with a Turkish company close to Erdoğan. Accordingly, Flynn might now be the first ethics scandal of Trump’s post-election team.”
It was recently revealed by the Washington-based news portal The Daily Caller that a Dutch company, founded in 2005 by Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman who holds a top position on Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board, hired the Flynn Intel Group Inc., an intelligence consulting firm founded by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s top military adviser, as a lobbyist.
“[Flynn’s company] was recently hired to lobby Congress by a Dutch company called Inovo BV that was founded by a Turkish businessman who holds a top position on Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board,” the report said.
Trump to see that the problem is Erdoğan
Rubin also criticized President Barack Obama’s relations with Erdoğan until 2013.
“Obama was initially very close to Erdoğan. He described him as one of his top foreign friends. Even Obama’s own national security council privately questioned how close he had become to Erdoğan. But, by 2013, Obama recognized just how erratic Erdoğan had become and how Erdoğan was supporting the Islamic State and Nusra Front behind-the-scenes. Trump may enter office blaming Obama for the poor relations with Turkey, but he will eventually come to see that the problem is Erdoğan,” added Rubin.
Published on Turkish Minute, 14 November 2016, Monday