Anti-Trump comedian Kathy Griffin took to Twitter Monday to condemn President Donald Trump preemptively for what she described as an inevitable conclusion of the reelection of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey — that Trump “will drop to his knees and blow this dictator.”
“Erdogan is now a dictator, no longer a democratically elected president,” Griffin wrote, elaborating only slightly on her insight into the Trump-Erdoğan relationship: “FUCK TRUMP.”
Oh good god. Trump will drop to his knees and blow this dictator. Trump will swallow.
Erdogan is now a dictator, no longer a democratically elected president.
FUCK TRUMP https://t.co/IPET19Ozyq
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) July 9, 2018
To illustrate her point about the relationship between Trump and Erdoğan, Griffin quoted a tweet featuring an article from Al Jazeera on Erdoğan’s inauguration Monday. The article does not mention Trump once, nor does it mention the many accusations against Erdoğan for being a “dictator,” as Griffin suggested. Instead, the article lists other dictators and unsavory international personages that Erdoğan invited to his inauguration, including Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
The Trump administration has heavily sanctioned the Maduro regime, including Maduro personally, and supported other Middle Eastern and Gulf powers in pressuring Qatar to cease its support of jihadist elements in the region.
The relationship between Turkey under the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Erdoğan and the United States under President Trump has grown increasingly tempestuous, in contrast to the friendly picture that Griffin has painted. Erdoğan visited the White House in May 2017 with two major objectives: to convince Trump to extradite the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, and to convince him to stop arming the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ), America’s closest allies in the region in the war against the Islamic State. Erdoğan not only failed at both, but left the country with several warrants levied against his personal security team for publicly beating Kurdish protesters in Washington. An outraged Erdoğan asked at the time, “What kind of law is this? If my bodyguards cannot protect me then why am I bringing them to America with me?”
The Pentagon has continued its cooperation with the YPG, though it has also negotiated a deal in which they give up parts of northern Syria to joint U.S.-Turkish patrols.
Erdoğan is scheduled to join this week’s NATO meeting in Europe, where the increasingly contentious role Turkey has played in that coalition is expected to cause some tensions. These tensions largely center around Erdoğan’s personal ambitions, now more emboldened than ever following his re-election to the presidency. Following an election in which multiple international observers decried reports of ballot irregularities, lack of opposition candidate access to the media, and the long-term imprisonment of one of the country’s most popular presidential candidates, Erdoğan declared himself a winner, taking his oath of office Monday.
Erdoğan will be the first president in the country under the new presidential system, which was approved in a widely contested 2017 referendum. Ankara did not address widespread allegations of fraud in that election, just as it has not in the June 24 vote, instead implementing the presidential system this week. Unlike the American presidential system, the Turkish presidential system hands Erdoğan the powers of the prime ministership, which no longer exists as its own office, and expansive decree powers without the checks present in the American presidential system, leading many to refuse to access Erdoğan’s legitimacy as head of state.
Erdoğan is expected to use his new powers to expand Islamic education and reverse modernization and secularization of the public square, expand Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria, and crack down on political opponents. On the eve of his inauguration, Erdoğan’s regime fired over 18,000 civil servants – most police officers and soldiers – for allegedly having ties to unnamed “terrorist” organizations.