By İlhan Tanır, Ela Gonca İzmirliThe House Subcommittee on ”Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats” held a meeting on Thursday on the state of Turkish Democracy titled “Turkey’s Democracy Under Challenge.”
The chairman of the committee, Dana Rohrabacher, who is known to be a close ally of President Donald Trump, was among the names considered for the Secretary of State position during the transition. Mr. Rohrabacher is still mentioned as a possible candidate for Deputy Secretary of State position under Mr. Rex Tillerson.
Representative Rohrabacher’s critical words about the state of Turkish democracy and Erdogan’s leadership came just one day after his private meeting at the White House with Mr. Trump on April 4th.
Rohrabacher: Turkish People will decide whether to have terrorist oriented government or friendship of the US
For the closing statement (full hearing video below), Representative Rohrabacher said:
” Turkish People are voting on whether they want to have a tough, strong, centralized power controlling their government or whether they want to have more freedom. In exchange obviously they will be overlooking, I don’t think they should overlook, this incredible suppression of the press and dissidents.
The whole cold war the Turkish people were the friends of US, we could count on them, they fought in Korea, they were part of the deterrent that prevented the Soviet Union from thinking that they can attack Europe.
The Turkish People that are going to the polls right now will decide will they be friends of the West and the US or will they have a radically oriented government, an Islamic-oriented government, a terrorist oriented government in power in Turkey. Will they be friends of the US and have a more democratic future. That will be determined. I’m on the side of Turkish People. I would hope that they remain our friend. Don’t go to the polls and basically join in this negation of a friendship that has lasted so long and done so much well for the people of US and the people of Turkey.”
David Philips, an expert on Turkey and Kurdish issues; Mehmet Yüksel, the US representative of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the US; Ali Çınar, the president of the Turkish Heritage Organization which is closely linked with the Turkish President’s Palace and Naz Durakoğlu, a former staff of the House Subcommittee she is a witness and currently at the Atlantic Council were among the experts who testified before the committee
During initial remarks, Representative Sherman, a member of the committee, claimed, “Erdogan is not a democratic leader.” Though other Subcommittee members also had very harsh words for President Erdogan.
Philips accused Erdogan’s son-in-law for colluding with ISIS
David Philips, during his testimony, claimed that the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan through his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, colluded with ISIS to broker oil sales from Syria and at its peak helped ISIS earn up to $ 3 million a day. Philips also testified about the suppression of the press and noted that ” any journalist in Turkey who reports on corruption linking the family to ISIS activities is assured of losing their job and going to jail.”
Mr. Yüksel: There is a slow motion genocide against Kurdish people in Turkey
HDP US representative Mehmet Yüksel talked about the hunger strikes in Turkish prisons and attacks on the party buildings. Drawing attention to the destruction in the southeast part of the country, he described the ongoing operations as “slow motion genocide.” Yüksel added that in a highly polarized political climate, AKP is arming its own supporters. Mr. Yuksel also talked about the Cizre operations and the deaths of hundreds of people.
Mr. Çınar: Journalists in Turkey jailed because of terror activities not because journalistic activities
Mr. Cınar from Heritage Foundation testified that “terrorism continues to be the main security concern” of Turkey, defended the AKP government claiming that investigations of the journalists who are presently in jail “aren’t due to their journalistic work but due to their links to terrorist organizations.” Interrupted a couple of times by the chairman of the Committee with a smile, he claimed that the journalists who were detained before the coup attempt were making ‘propaganda of terror’ and sharing intelligence information with the public.
Ms. Durakoğlu: US has to conduct an honest dialogue with Turkey
Durakoğlu noted that the result of the upcoming referendum might have an effect on the decisions for the Rakka operation as well as might affect the energy policy and the solution to Cyprus dispute. Durakoğlu mentioned the possible impact of the referendum on foreign policy but noted if the constitutional amendments were adopted, it would not signal strengthened democratic values. During her testimony, she emphasized the need for an ‘open’ dialog between the US and Turkey.