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Why President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Is The Most Dangerous Man in Europe-and What the US Can Do About Him
It has now been over 100 years since the Turkish government during the Ottoman Empire was responsible for the arrest, deportation and killings of 1.5 million Armenians. Every single US president from Woodrow Wilson to current president Donald Trump have failed and refused to recognize what is known to historians and scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. President Erdogan is a major part of the problem. This article is written to talk about why Erdogan may be the biggest hurdle to the recognition of the Armenian genocide. He is also the most dangerous leader in Europe. However, the article will not cover the reasons that the Armenian Genocide should be recognized. The main focus of the article will be to show why President Erdogan is the most dangerous man in Europe and what the United States should do to try and deal with him.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan the President of Turkey since 2014
Reason #1: he refuses to admit to an obvious crime
President Erdogan may be the most dangerous man in Europe other than Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Erdogan is dangerous for many reasons. The first reason is that he fails to admit that the killings of Armenians happened because of extermination by the Ottoman government. The failure to properly admit a crime of mass extermination is dangerous because being in denial will only cause Erdogan to do just as he pleases. He will do what he can to hold on to absolute power. According to Turkey, this violent act was instigated to crack down on Armenians willing to secede from the Ottoman Empire.
Reason #2: He Uses Carefully Crafted Speeches to Escape Admission of Responsibility for a Major Crime
Erdogan is dangerous because he uses carefully crafted political speeches to excuse himself from admitting the crime that Turkey committed over 100 years ago. In a speech that he gave last year, Erdogan had the audacity to say that Turkey as the place to honor those Armenians that lost their lives. He also said that Turks and Armenians share “this common pain,” (Sharkov 2016). That is really lurid and nonsensical. Is he trying to say that Turks suffered as much as Armenians? And even though he extended his condolences to the children and grandchildren of those people that lost their lives, there has been no public apology by Erdogan about the Genocide. He does not have the courage to admit an obvious crime. The historical evidence is out there and yet Erdogan is being a fool by denying it. This continued denial will make it impossible for Turkey to gain admission into the European Union and their worldwide reputation will still be in low standing.
President Erdogan looking very angry
Reason #3: he is a major threat to the Kurdish population
Erdogan is dangerous for his attacks against the Kurdish population in Turkey. He has vowed to exterminate them at any cost. On a related note, with all the attention and concern being put on ISIS, President Erdogan may be more dangerous because of his feud with the PKK, an organization that Turkey refers to as a terrorist organization. This article is not about the PKK but regardless of their goals, when the president of a major country vows to eliminate his own people in this manner, that person is dangerous. Yet the United States will ignore Erdogan’s awful acts because they will benefit financially from Turkey.
Reason #4: He Blames Other Countries for Something That He Should Admit
Erdogan is also dangerous because he verbally attacks other countries most recently Germany. In June 2016 when the German parliament voted to pass a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, Erdogan angrily denounced the move calling it a reason to blackmail Turkey and that his country would never accept these accusations. They are not accusations. The killing of over 1.5 million Armenians happened and all that Erdogan can do is call them accusations? He is worse than Donald Trump and even more childish. Erdogan in his speech said that he was trying to send a message to the world. Whether they like it or not, he said that his government would never accept accusations of genocide. This is another example of a world leader showing just how dangerous he is. Even though Turkey agrees that many Armenians died, they say that these people died due to war and deportation. The death toll listed by Turkish government sources is 300,000, far below the historically accepted figure. In addition to this, Erdogan claimed that “Germany has no right to comment on genocide, given its own history during World War II and in Namibia,” (Al Jazeera English Site 2016). The difference here is that Germany has properly recognized its mistakes during World War 2 and they have paid reparations to the affected individuals. Turkey has done nothing except to try to hide in the corner and blame other countries.
Reason #5: He Is a Brutal Autocrat That Is Power Hungry
And finally, Erdogan is the most dangerous leader in Europe because he is a brutal autocrat that will stop at nothing to satisfy his own needs. Someone that has the nerve to say that other countries that pass genocide resolutions have blood on their hands, has something to think about. The government of Turkey has been behaving badly for over a century and if this behavior continues, Turkey will not be respected around the world. Turkey is a country that the United States should be very concerned about because this is a country that denies the first big genocide of the 20th century while killing its own people, discriminating against minorities in job placement, and not helping Christians build churches. The US wasted trillions of dollars to get rid of Saddam Hussein while brutal autocrats like Recep Tayyip Erdogan remain alive and ready to attack. There is no time for more political theater. The time for the US to take action against Turkey is now. That kind of action is to urge Turkey to properly admit and apologize to the entire Armenian community of the world, something that they have still not done.
President and former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
What the United States can do about President Erdogan
One last thing that needs to be mentioned is this: why is the United States recognizing what is happening in Sudan as genocide while ignoring what happened to the Armenians? The Turkish government is no less brutal and autocratic than Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan. Both countries have leaders that are responsible for the death and torture of hundreds or thousands of their own people. If the United States is really interested in human rights, the best thing that they can do is to recognize this obvious crime against humanity that is the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The United States should also condemn any action of brutality by Erdogan against the Kurds and properly call it for what it is. The oppression of the Kurds is a crime against humanity and it should be condemned. However, because the US has military bases in Turkey, they will ignore whatever crimes Erdogan commits while trying to verbally go after leaders such as Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela. It is true that there are not as many Armenians worldwide as there are Turks or Germans but that still does not mean that the US should ignore what happened over a century ago. Genocide cannot ever be ignored and swept aside. This is a serious matter and in order to have an improved international standing throughout the world, the US must immediately recognize the crime of genocide against the Armenians. There has to be less semantics and useless talk about political interests with Turkey and Armenians must be helped out. The crime of the Armenian Genocide must be admitted now. An entire nation of people deserves to be treated much better than they are being treated now because these people are human like the rest of us. But because of the long standing alliance with Turkey, the US will most probably never recognize the Genocide. We are now in 2017 and the result is still the same. Now that Donald Trump is the new leader in America, there is little reason to hope that he will recognize the Armenian Genocide. However, the most honorable and respectable action that the US can take is to recognize the massacres of Armenians as genocide so that Turkey can be exposed to the world for the brutal police state that it is. If an admission by the US comes, they will lose their business interests but the world will be a better place because of that recognition.
2016. Al Jazeera English Site. June 4. Accessed January 31, 2017. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/06/erdogan-armenia-genocide-blackmail-turkey-160604151409300.html.
Sharkov, Damien. 2016. Newsweek. April 25. Accessed January 30, 2017. http://www.newsweek.com/erdogan-turkey-most-meaningful-place-mark-armenian-genocide-452030.
© 2017 Ara Vahanian