“Just had a very good call with President @RTErdogan. . . . Look forward to seeing President Erdogan next Wednesday, November 13th at the @WhiteHouse!” Mr. Trump tweeted following a phone call to patch things up after a House resolution condemned the massacre last century of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as an act of genocide.
“Look forward to” is likely not the sentiment of local and U.S. authorities who recall the brutish behavior of Turkish security personnel during Mr. Erdogan’s last visit in 2017. Video of a confrontation outside the ambassador’s residence at Sheridan Circle showed bodyguards overrunning police and ignoring their commands as they beat peaceful protesters; newly revealed State Department memos show other problems with Turkish security during the two-day visit. Indictments were brought against 15 Turkish guards, but most were later dropped.
It was not the first time Mr. Erdogan came to the United States and ended up bullying dissenters. His appearance at the Brookings Institution during the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit saw his security detail roughing up demonstrators and trying to eject “undesired” journalists. Mr. Erdogan sadly is able to get away with stifling dissent and cracking down on journalists at home. It should be made clear to him that such tactics won’t be tolerated here. D.C. police won’t comment on their preparations, but we hope they are better positioned this time to protect peaceful protesters.
And there is much to protest. Mr. Erdogan has jailed hundreds of journalists, academics and others he perceives as political opponents, and purged thousands from their jobs. His offensive into northeastern Syria, under the guise of fighting terrorism and greenlighted by Mr. Trump, has led to ethnic cleansing of Kurds, created a humanitarian disaster and compromised the fight against the Islamic State. He has been emboldened by Mr. Trump’s eagerness to retreat from the region, and there’s little hope that the administration will speak up for the rule of law in Turkey. It is up to Congress to protest — and hopefully mitigate — the damage Mr. Erdogan is causing.