A US diplomatic employee was detained in Turkey last week claiming links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen whom it claims was responsible for the July 2016 coup attempt against Turkish
strongman President Erdoğan.
Erdoğan sees Keyser Söze around every corner, and has detained more than 50,000 people and fired an additional 150,000 over suspected links to Gulen. A 13 year old will spend a year in jail for insulting Erdoğan. Amnesty International activists have been jailed and are awaiting trial.
In response to the employee’s detention the US suspended visa services at its facilities in the country.
Now Turkey has retaliated by suspending non-immigrant visa services at their facilities in the U.S.
The US said it ‘needed to “reassess” Turkey’s commitment to the security of its personnel.”‘ So Turkey has released
a statement saying “I know you are but what am I?” a parallel statement,
“Recent events have forced the Turkish government to reassess the commitment of government of the United States to the security of Turkish mission facilities and personnel,” the statement by the embassy in Washington said.
Just as Turkish Airlines was added as a Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer partner, too.
Copyright: boarding1now / 123RF Stock Photo
This certainly won’t help the airline.
Three years ago Turkey began requiring e-Visas for many passport holders. The Turkish e-visa website now says that US passport holders are not eligible to apply online for one.
So U.S. citizens can’t apply online, and cannot obtain visa services in person in the U.S.
Note that this should not affect those transiting Istanbul, for instance connecting on Turkish Airlines. That’s permitted for up to 24 hours in airport without visa.
Just last week Turkey’s President was claiming that Turkish citizens who traveled to the US returned as traitorous agents. So the suspension of visa services by the US should be a boon to his security.
There was some expectation that US relations with Turkey would be strong during the Trump administration despite the nation’s authoritarian tendencies, the US gave some nods towards giving up Gulen and turning him over to Turkey. And former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had been on Turkey’s payroll during the Presidential campaign.
However relations have quickly soured with the country which once aspired to become a member of the EU and is now being run as a banana republic.
This is inconvenient at best for US tourists, but it’s a far worse situation for the Turkish people. Hopefully the visa situation will be resolved soon, but we can only genuinely hope that a modicum of freedom is restored to the country over the medium term.