Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Put United States Ambassador Jeff Flake in His Place
On April 2, 2023, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that upcoming national elections should serve as a “lesson” to the US. He added that his “doors are closed” to US ambassador Jeff Flake. According to a report by The Cradle, Erdogan met with Kemal Kilicdaroglu — his main electoral rival.
“Our doors are closed for him; he can no longer come in. Why? He needs to know his place,” Erdogan said in a meeting with a group of officials from the ultranationalist Grey Wolves movement. “Shame on you, think with your head. You are an ambassador. Your interlocutor here is the president.”
Flake had met with Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), on March 29 “as part of continuing conversations with Turkish political parties on issues of mutual interest between our two countries,” per a tweet from the US Embassy.
In March, Turkey summoned Flake over US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley’s visit to northeast Syria. This happened weeks following Turkish interior minister Suleyman Soylu’s critical remarks launched at the US ambassador. This was a time when the US issued a warning to Turkey about exporting chemicals, microchips, and other products to Russia.
“Take your dirty hands off of Turkiye. I’m being very clear. I very well know how you would like to create strife in Turkiye. Take your grinning face off from Turkiye,” Soylu said at the time.
Presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey are set to take place on May 14. Kilicdaroglu received the nomination as the presidential candidate by an alliance of the country’s six main opposition parties.
Erdogan and his ruling AKP party are expected to face a stiff challenge during this re-election bid after a vicious earthquake claimed the lives of over 50,000 people in Turkey in early February.
Per the most recent opinion polls, which were released on March 27, Kilicdaroglu is leading Erdogan in voter intention by 2.5% points. Though these figures demonstrate that Erdogan is narrowing the gap from earlier in March when he was trailing by over 10% points.
According to four different polling companies, Kilicdaroglu is the favorite to win the race with over 50% of voter support. By contrast, support for Erdogan is roughly around 44%.
While Erdogan’s regime is nasty, the US needs to stay out of Turkish affairs. This is a country that is of no strategic interest to the US and should be allowed to pursue its own foreign and domestic policies.
Instead, the US should be focusing on securing its border and maintaining peace and prosperity in its traditional sphere of influence in the Western Hemisphere. This is the America First way of handling foreign policy in the era of multipolarity.