These days, America has more trouble with its allies than its enemies.
Consider the strange case of Turkey and Qatar, two putative American allies. Both nations host essential U.S. air bases while supporting Islamist political parties, increasingly cooperating with Iran, America’s most determined enemy in the region, and actively subverting U.S. policy in the region.
Questions began with the arrest of Andrew Brunson, an American-born Christian pastor who has lived in Turkey for 23 years without incident. Then, on October 7, 2016 Brunson and his wife Norine were seized as alleged coup plotters. Norine was released after being held for 13 days, without any charges being filed. Andrew Brunson has remained in detention since 2016 and the charges, when they finally appeared, were numerous and impossible to believe. Example: Brunson is a part of Mormon-inspired CIA plot to topple Turkey’s elected government. (Brunson is not Mormon and has no known CIA connections.) If convicted, he faces up to 35 years in prison.
Turkey revealed its true intentions when it offered to exchange Brunson for Fethullah Gülen, a self-exiled Turkish Islamic cleric who lives in Pennsylvania. The Turkish government believes that Gülen and his alleged “Fethullah Gülen Terror Organization” are behind the July 2016 alleged attempted “coup” against the Turkish government. Dissidents maintain that the “coup” was manufactured to give the elected Islamist government cover to purge pro-secular senior military officers, opposition politicians and critical journalists. For more than a decade, Turkish politics has been roiled by a debate about undoing many of secular traditions and laws enacted at the founding of modern Turkey in the 1920s, but now moving toward a more Islamic model that is friendlier to Iran’s Islamic dictatorship and less so toward the US and the EU. Brunson apparently became a pawn in a larger chess game.