The US ambassador to Turkey was insulted during a meeting of the Turkish Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee on April 7, which included a discussion of the growing number of political appointments to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
After opposition MPs criticized the appointment of Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kıran as ambassador to Zagreb, MPs from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and their ultra-nationalist Party allies of the Nationalist Movement (MHP) issued statements of support for Kıran one after another. Kiran, who is not a career diplomat, had previously been a candidate for parliament for the AKP.
MHP MP Kamil Aydın said that the number of politicians appointed as ambassadors in other countries was much higher than in Turkey and gave the example of the United States. Aydın, who described the questioning of ambassadors by a Senate committee during the nomination process as a spectacle, incorrectly claimed that more than 50% of nominations to the US State Department were political.
He mentioned US Ambassador Jeff Flake as having met Istanbul’s mayor from the main opposition party and described him as a politician who had switched sides and betrayed his cause. He also described Flake as a man who appeared to be a Republican but was not. According to Aydın, Flake sold out his fellow Republicans, sided with the Democrats, and received an embassy as a reward.
Ruling party and MHP MPs typically use potential presidential candidate and Istanbul mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu’s meetings with foreign ambassadors as a tool of defamation with the aim of portraying the mayor as a candidate supported by “foreign powers”.
Minutes of Aydın’s speech in parliament:
Kamil Aydın on Flake
Former Arizona senator Flake was known as an opponent of former US President Donald Trump. During the Access Hollywood tape scandal that emerged in 2016, he argued that Trump should withdraw from his candidacy after his insulting remarks about women.
In October 2017, Flake gave a speech in which he said he would not seek another term.
“I didn’t want to leave the Senate. I wanted to at least do another term. But the idea of standing on a campaign stage with Donald Trump and laughing at his jokes and staring at my feet while he ridiculed my colleagues – I just couldn’t do it. There is nothing worth it. But I look and think that leaving and leaving the party or creating a third party that just doesn’t – we need two strong parties in this country. I think we will be back, hopefully we will. I want to be part of it,” he said. Told The Guardian in a February 2021 interview.
Flake was appointed by US President Joe Biden as Ambassador to Turkey in June 2021.
It is quite interesting to see why a member of a nationalist party allied with an Islamist party is so uncomfortable with a politician who split from a former president accused of being Islamophobic and of supporting the Kurds in Syria, which the MHP was opposed to.
Another interesting fact is that the AKP was founded by politicians who announced that they had abandoned the deeply rooted Islamist line of the National Vision movement in 2001 to pursue a more liberal and pro-Western policy. Former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, one of the symbols of Islamism in Turkey, called politicians who left his Islamist party traitors and called them Byzantine children. However, the AKP has taken a much more Islamist line over the years.
Meanwhile, the appointment of Deputy Foreign Minister Kıran as Ambassador to Zagreb came as a surprise to many. According to the tradition of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a bureaucrat at the level of deputy minister or undersecretary is usually appointed to head one of Turkey’s permanent representations to the United Nations, for example in Paris (UNESCO ), Geneva or New York. Political pundits say Kiran’s efforts to be more visible in the public eye were influential in his demotion.
Kiran came to public attention during a scandal last September during Erdoğan’s visit to the United Nations General Assembly. On September 19, 2021, the pro-Erdoğan Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) and the little-known Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce (OJC) signed a joint statement to “cooperate for the common good of American Turks and American Jews and to support relations between our homeland the United States and our respective homelands, Turkey and Israel” through initiatives such as the Abraham Accords, a series of agreements brokered by the United States in 2020 aimed at normalizing relations between Israel and certain Arab states. Erdoğan at the time described this as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause. TASC later announced that due to lack of proper consensus, it was withdrawing from the TASC-OJC joint statement. TASC also apologized to Deputy Minister Kiran, who was present at the signing ceremony. Kıran faced heavy criticism, including from people close to the ruling party.