This weekend saw the convention of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey’s ruling Islamist party. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that he would remain active in politics until 2023, thereby confirming his role as the Turkish equivalent of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
The AKP’s convention played host to a number of foreign officials, including the leader of Hamas:
Among the many high-profile leaders from around the world, Khaled Meshaal, the head of the Hamas movement, was by far the most popular foreign guest for the thousands of supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who gathered for the party’s convention in Ankara yesterday. In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan introduced all foreign dignitaries attending the convention one by one. The biggest applause from the AKP supporters present came for Meshaal, prompting him to stand up and greet the audience. While Meshaal was greeting the audience, slogans such as “Damn Israel” echoed around the convention hall.
That President Obama describes Erdoğan as one of his closest foreign friends is scandalous. Erdoğan has transformed Turkey from an aspiring democracy to a country which ranks below even Russia in terms of basic freedoms. And it has transformed Turkey from a country fighting terrorism to, in effect, a country cheerleading terrorists.