U.S. must voice concerns on Erdoğan’s attempts to nullify polls – Bloomberg

U.S. support for Turks who oppose the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) electoral manipulation would both preserve credibility with the government that comes after Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and weaken Turkey’s strongman, who has become an unreliable ally to Washington, wrote Eli Lake, opinion columnist for Bloomberg.

Citing fraud and irregularities at ballot boxes in the March 31 local elections, Erdoğan’s AKP scheduled a revote of the city’s municipal elections for June 23. The AKP made the move after losing in the city to the secular opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu by a narrow margin.

Losing Istanbul is “an untenable situation for Erdogan’s Islamist party, which relies on the patronage that comes from controlling local governments,’’ the article said.

However, many within the country and internationally have reacted to the announcement of the elections redo.

There have been condemnations from several European foreign ministers as well as the European Union, Bloomberg said, however that the Trump administration has remained silent on the matter.

Bloomberg quoted Ahval’s executive editor Ilhan Tanır as saying silence from the United States makes it seem as though the administration “wants Erdogan to stay in power forever,” however it is “ time for the Trump administration to make a strong statement.”

Washington has its hands full with Turkey. Leading the way in issues between the NATO allies are efforts to prevent Turkey from attacking the Syrian Kurds, crucial allies of Washington in the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) as the U.S. withdraws from Syria and a campaign to persuade Turkey not to go through with the purchase of a Russian air defence system, the Bloomberg article highlighted.

Erdoğan is “flirting with Russia, buying an air defense system incompatible with NATO’s weaponry. And he still won’t promise not to slaughter the Kurds who helped vanquish the Islamic State in Syria,’’ it said.

The United States has threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey and eject it from the programme to build parts for the F-35 fighter jets if it goes ahead with buying the Russian missiles.

The Turkish president is the main irritant in the country’s relationship with the United States, the article asserted, and Washington must listen to what millions of Turkish citizens, including Erdoğan’s former allies such as former president Abdullah Gül are now saying.