Can We Have Constantinople Back?

Turkey, sometimes an unsteady ally during the Cold War and in Middle Eastern affairs but an ally nonetheless, is showing increasing signs under Erdogan of tilting toward Islamism and away from the West. And that’s leaving aside the appalling scene from Erdogan’s recent visit to Washington, which featured his security goons beating up on protestors in the streets of Washington outside the Turkish embassy.

Today the Wall Street Journal reports that Turkey’s state-run media has released a map showing the location of U.S. forces in Syria:

WASHINGTON—A detailed map purportedly showing where U.S. forces are deployed in northern Syria was published by Turkey’s state-run news agency, drawing a sharp retort and a warning from the Pentagon that the move could undermine the battle against Islamic State.

Since the map was published by state-run media, the obvious question is why the Turkish government decided to put out this damaging information publicly. It is likely not much of a secret there U.S. forces are in Syria, nor is it news that Turkey is displeased that we have chosen to work with a Kurdish faction that Turkey dislikes. Making this a public media story seems to have one purpose: to express public contempt for the United States, as if having a goon squad beating up people in the streets of Washington didn’t already convey that message.

I noted here a couple weeks ago the episode during my recent visit to Bulgaria where Turkey’s ambassador behaved in a highly undiplomatic way toward Daniel Pipes. The most remarkable part of this, as I mentioned at the time, was the ambassador’s refusal to answer the question of whether Dan would be arrested if he set foot in Turkey. Dan has now returned to the scene of the crime, so to speak, with his own more detailed account and analysis of the confrontation (complete with a sequel about the ambassador’s tweetstorm against Pipes afterward), but Dan also offers up a 15-minute video of the episode. Worth watching:

Dan concludes by recalling the words of British Prime Minister William Gladstone, but I’ll double down and say that it would be nice if we could have Constantinople back. Alas, the old song is probably right:

So, Take me back to Constantinople
No, you can’t go back to Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Oh Constantinople
Why did Constantinople get the works?
That’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

Chaser: Germany warning travelers about going to Turkey.

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