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Dr. Jasser: US Must Have 'Tough Love' With Turkish President

Newsmax TV's "America Talks Live"

By    |   Monday, 17 April 2017 05:00 PM

The United States must get tough with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, told Newsmax TV.

And that means holding him accountable for violations of human rights and equality, Jasser, a retired U.S Navy lieutenant commander, told host Bill Tucker on Monday's "America Talks Live."

Jasser said the U.S. has to practice "tough love" with Erdoğan, holding him "to our own" standards and values.

"This is so important because . . . the Turks have been dumping millions upon millions into the U.S.," he said.

"The largest mosque in the United States just opened up in Maryland a year ago, and the Turkish lobby is extremely influential in the West. So, at the end of the day, we need to begin to shift that.

"The old Obama [administration] policy of what he called 'strategic patience' as an approach to Korea, an approach to Egypt, Syria, was useless.

"[It] was appeasement to the Nth degree, and we need to shift that to start to hold them accountable to our own interests and also universal human rights."

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Voters in Turkey appeared to approve constitutional changes Sunday that will greatly expand the Erdoğan's powers, although opponents claim fraud and insist it gives the autocratic-leaning president too much power.

"Erdoğan runs the AKP, which is the Muslim Brotherhood of the Turkish people," Jasser said. 

"So they not only want an Islamic State, they want Sharia law, and he's slowly been consolidating power over the past few years.

"He wanted this referendum . . . to be able to cancel the prime minister's position to end the parliamentary system, to have control over 3 to 5 million civil servants, which he would then likely fire or control from an autocratic perspective.

"And then [he will] also increase the number of judges he hires so that he can take away some of the checks and balances in the system. All of that is a move toward autocracy."

Jasser said in 1996, Erdoğan, as mayor of Istanbul, stated "democracy is like a train, you get on it until you get where you want to go, and then you get off."

"And this is why Islamists can never be trusted [when they say] they're for elections, they're for democracy, it is always a one-way street," he told Tucker.

"They are authoritarians who believe in a theocracy. . . . The silver lining here is this may be what pushes the rest of the Turkish community to begin to push back and actually have a Turkish awakening the way the Arab Awakening started in 2011."

Jasser also noted Turkey's opposition party is refusing to accept the results of the referendum.

"He won by 1 percent, 51.3 percent, and there's a lot of concern of illegitimacy of the elections, and the fact that it may have been a corrupt election," Jasser said. "So, a lot of this has to be verified.

"[And] the Kurdish community might have been excluded in the voting so there's just a ton of irregularities.

"This is where we need the West to sort of chime in and say, listen, not only is this a large economic power house in the Middle East, but this is a NATO country that we should hold accountable to the rest of the democracies."

The 18 constitutional changes OK'd in the referendum would convert Turkey's system of government from parliamentary to presidential, and abolish the office of the prime minister.

Erdoğan says it will mean the country no longer risks having weak governments.

Jasser is the author of  "Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot's Fight to Save His Faith,” published by Threshold Editions.

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Monday, 17 April 2017 05:00 PM
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