Despite the fact there are a number of competing theories surrounding the underlying causes of the recent coup attempt in Turkey, the fact still remains that President Obama initially pledged his support for Turkey, requesting that all parties support the “democratically-elected” government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Following this endorsement, relations between the U.S. and Turkey became strained. Turkey publicly blamed elements within the U.S., namely followers of a cleric named Fethullah Gulen, a resident of the state of Pennsylvania. The U.S. categorically denied this allegation. Though Gulen has publicly denied any involvement in the recent coup, Erdogan continues to use Gulen as a quasi-imaginary bogeyman through which to justify an expansion of his powers.
Whether or not relations will deteriorate further—or if this is simply standard muscle-flexing following Erdogan’s quashing of a military coup—is yet to be seen. If Erdogan is foolish enough to rattle the nerves of the U.S. establishment after they pledged their support to him, that is his business.
The real question now concerns how the U.S. decided which Middle Eastern autocrats are allowed to quell an uprising and which are not. Why can Erdogan crack down on a military uprising in Turkey but Assad in Syria cannot?
Is it because Erdogan is “democratically-elected” and Assad is not?
Even in the face of the giant anti-Assad propaganda machine, Assad has retained the support of the majority of Syrians since the war began in 2011. Shortly after the ”uprising” began in Syria, a YouGov Siraj poll, commissioned by the Doha Debates and funded by the Qatar Foundation, found at least 55 percent of Syrians wanted Assad to stay. It should be noted that Qatar, an incredibly rich country, has been one of the staunchest backers of rebel groups trying to topple Assad.
In 2014, Assad won the Syrian elections in a landslide victory, with international observers claiming no violations. The only legitimate criticism of these elections is the fact the votes were only counted within government-held areas. However, if the U.S. were to hold an election in which at least a third of the country was being held by al-Qaeda and ISIS fanatics—like in Syria—we might be able to take this kind of criticism seriously.
Assad’s support in Syria has not faltered, even up until the end of last year, when a French poll conducted by Le Figaro found 72 percent of Syrians wanted Assad to remain in power.
Conversely, if Erdogan was as “democratically-elected” as Obama claims he is, why would Erdogan feel the need to crack down so heavily on the free press? Why would so many media outlets in the West go to such great lengths to determine whether or not the Turkish elections in 2015 contained irregularities?
It should be clear that Obama’s support for certain regimes—and ultimately, his distaste for others—has nothing to do with democracy and human rights. His unrelenting support for a country as brutal as Saudi Arabia is telling of this fact, given that Saudi Arabia uses their “anti-terror” laws to prosecute human rights lawyers; in the meantime, the recently declassified 28 pages of the 9/11 report have demonstrated Saudi Arabia’s overt support for the largest terrorist attack ever perpetrated against the United States.
Where does Obama obtain the authority to determine who is democratic and who is not? Obama won his bid for re-election in 2012 with a voter turnout of a mere 53.6 per cent of the American public. He received 129.1 million votes in favor of his rule. This means that approximately 189.8 million American people did not vote for Obama.
His current approval rating sits at about 50 percent.
Perhaps Assad should be telling Erdogan and Obama to step down, and not the other way around—though, apparently, Assad has better things to do.
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