The increasingly authoritarian and openly Islamist Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan isn’t exactly fond of Hillary Clinton. Normally that would be a tad bit strange. After all, authoritarian Islamic leaders tend to love Democrats.
Erdogan’s anger was aroused, however, by Clinton saying during the most recent presidential debate that, as president, she would arm and support Kurdish forces fighting in Syria against ISIS:
Hillary Clinton must be a political novice for suggesting that she would arm Syrian Kurdish groups in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) if she is elected president next month, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.
“This is a very unfortunate statement,” Erdoğan said. “I regard this as political inexperience.”
That’s a rather strange accusation. After all, Hillary is one of the most experienced politicians in the United States. She has been a very influential first lady, a senator for the state of New York and, finally, secretary of state. If that makes her inexperienced, I wonder what Erdogan considers experienced.
Of course, the Turkish president is fully aware of Clinton’s political resumé. He’s just trying to take a swipe at her, hoping it’ll cause her some grief inside the United States. That’s a bit of an exaggeration of his own power and influence, but hey, that’s nothing new for an authoritarian like him.
President Erdogan isn’t the only Turkish leader who has had it with Clinton, however. The same goes for the country’s prime minister, Binali Yildirim (who was handpicked by Erdogan, of course):
“Clinton has said she would support Kurds in the region, terrorist organizations, with arms if she is elected. What does that mean? Is the U.S. not our ally? What does it mean to support them with arms?” Yıldırım told his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) weekly parliamentary group meeting on Oct. 11.
“They supposedly fight against Daesh [an Arabic anonym of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIL] by arming the [People’s Protection Units] YPG, which is an offshoot of the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK,” the prime minister added.
Yıldırım stressed that fighting against one terrorist organization by using another terrorist organization was “unacceptable.”
All snide remarks about Turkey’s leaders aside, they do have a point, of course, at least from their own perspective. If Hillary wins the elections — and I’m sure she will — she will have to choose between Turkey and the Kurds. It’s either one — she can’t have her cake and eat it too. If she arms Kurdish groups in Syria and Iraq, she’ll lose Turkey’s support in the war on ISIS. As a foreign policy guy, I’m extremely interested in how she plans to make up for that loss. Could some American journalist who still takes his or her job seriously ask her that question the next time she debates Donald Trump?
I’m no fan of the Turkish president, but if he wants, he can certainly hold the anti-ISIS coalition hostage. How will Clinton handle that? Or will she just do whatever she wants and hope for the best? That’s not much of a foreign policy, especially not for the most powerful country on earth.