Michael Rubin: Why Has Erdogan Filed a Criminal Complaint Against Me?

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Arrested soldiers accused of being involved in an attempted coup d'etat on 15 July 2016 in Turkey, are accompanied by Turkish soldiers as they arrive at the court inside the Sincan Prison in Ankara, on May 22, 2017 to be tried. The trial opened on May 22, 2017 of more than 220 suspects, including over two dozen former Turkish generals, accused of being among the ringleaders of the attempted coup last year aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty

This article first appeared on the American Enterprise Institute site.

For a man who depicts himself as a great leader on the world stage, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems fragile, an Ottoman snowflake.

You see, on June 2 I woke up to news that Turkey's leader had filed a nine-page criminal complaint against me.

Here's my confession:

  • Did I write about Erdogan's corruption? Yes.
  • Did I write about Erdogan's crackdown on political dissent? Yes.
  • Did I suggest that Erdogan is setting Turkey down a path to ruin? Yes.
  • Do I support exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen or his organization? No. But I draw conclusions based on evidence, not Erdogan's political grudges. Sometimes I might agree with what Gülen says or does, and other times I don't.

Now, isn't it ironic, Mr. President, that your supporters used to criticize me for criticizing Gülen? I know the literary reference will be lost on you but isn't this what George Orwell meant when, in 1984 , he wrote "We've always been at war with Eastasia"?

  • Did I suggest that something smells fishy about the evidence put forward by Erdogan about last summer's coup? You bet I did. Frankly, most of it seems just as fake as the dossiers Erdogan (and supporters of his then-ally Gülen) put forward to support the Ergenekon and Bayloz cases.
  • Do I believe Erdogan's cynical approach to the Islamic State and the Kurdish negotiations have sparked a terrorist blowback in which hundreds of Turks have died? Yes.
  • Do I believe Erdogan might end his career as Metin Yüksel did, or in a Qatari or Russian exile? That's not a threat, it's just a reading of Turkey's dangerous polarization and what has happened in the past when outlets of civil dissent are shut down for political reasons.

Now, President Erdogan, here's some advice: When you have truth on your side, you needn't try to arrest or intimidate your opponents.

As for your case against me? I'm not alone. People aren't stupid. You're trying to show yourself as strong to your supporters, but such antics only expose you as weak.

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More than half of Turks share similar concerns. American and European diplomats have reached the same conclusions. So too have many Arab states. Yes, you can reach out to Russia but, be aware: Russian President Vladimir Putin wants only to use you; he does not care about Turkey, and will throw you away when he's done with you.

But, if I hurt your feelings, Mr. President, let me apologize: I'm sorry that history will not remember you any more kindly than it does Murad IV.

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Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. A former Pentagon official, his major research areas are the Middle East, Turkey, Iran and diplomacy.

Michael Rubin: Why Has Erdogan Filed a Criminal Complaint Against Me? | Opinion