Erdogan to ‘teach America a lesson’ over apparent US support for Turkiye opposition

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said that his government will “teach America a lesson” in the upcoming Turkish elections next month, taking aim at Washington after its Ambassador visited the leading opposition candidate.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of his ally, the Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) youth branch, the ultra-nationalist Idealist Hearths group, or ‘Grey Wolves’, Erdogan condemned US Ambassador to Turkiye, Jeff Flake’s meeting last week with the leader of the main opposition, Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

“He [Flake] goes and meets with Mr Kemal. Shame on you, use your head. You are an Ambassador. Your interlocutor here is the President,” Erdogan stated. “Our doors are now closed to him. You cannot see [me] anymore. Why? You will know your limit. You will know your duty as Ambassador. You will learn how an Ambassador works”.

The President added that “we have to teach America a lesson”, seemingly referring to the isolation of Flake and the predicted victory of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the elections scheduled for 14 May.

Başkan Recep Tayyip Erdoğan'dan Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu ile buluşan ABD'nin Ankara Büyükelçisi Jeff Flake'e sert tepki:

❝Joe Biden oradan konuşuyor, onun buradaki büyükelçisi ne yapıyor? Gidiyor 'Bay Bay Kemal'i ziyaret ediyor. Ayıptır, biraz kafanı çalıştır. Sen büyükelçisin.❞

— A Haber (@ahaber) April 3, 2023

Following negotiations and tussles between opposition figures and parties throughout the past year, Kilicdaroglu is now the primary opposition candidate in Turkiye, leading the six-party Nation Alliance coalition, and represents what many call the greatest threat to Erdogan and the AKP’s rule in the country over the past two decades.

He has vowed to unseat Erdogan’s government and restore the parliamentary system, as well as backtrack on many of the AKP’s policies throughout the years, such as that on hosting millions of Syrian refugees, threatening to deport them if he is elected.

US ambassador Flake’s meeting with Kilicdaroglu, therefore, is seen as a blatant endorsement and display of support for Turkiye’s opposition, only adding to existing and growing concerns amongst the current Turkish government that Washington and other Western nations are purposefully attempting to back the opposition and enact a coup against the ruling AKP.

Those fears were especially expressed in early February when Turkish Interior Minister, Suleyman Soylu accused every US ambassador in the country of “hurrying to find out how to make a coup possible in Turkiye”, stating that “They gather other [Western] ambassadors and try to give them advice”. He demanded to Flake and the American diplomatic mission to “Take your dirty hands off Turkiye.”

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