A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, April 4, 2016

Erdoğan's Washington Misadventure

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's trip to Washington last week was supposed to go better than it did. The trip, coinciding with the Nuclear Security Summit, was supposed to help enhance his image in the West but, as my MEI colleague Gonul Tol notes, it did the reverse. Not only did Erdoğan and the Obama Administration snipe at each other over the Syrian PYD and the issue of press freedom in Turkey, but an embarrassing series of confrontations outside the Brookings Institution between Erdoğan's security detail and protesters, and their attempt to exclude certain Turkish journalists from the event, merely reinforced the impression of Erdoğan as an increasingly autocratic "Sultan."

The trip compounds Erdoğan's recent missteps, such as his summoning the German Ambassador to protest a satirical video about him on German TV, which backfired badly by driving online viewing to over four million views, in a classic example of the so-called "Streisand effect." in which an attempt to suppress information backfires and leads to its being more widely publicized.

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