Turkey Issues Travel Warnings to Citizens Going to US

(GPA) Ankara – The Turkish government has issued warnings to their citizens about traveling to the United States in light of the large anti-Trump protests.

In what is most likely a move of political blustering, Turkey – NATO’s most crucial ally near the Middle East conflict zones – has issued a warning concerning travel to the US. With the election of Donald Trump, this could be a move to exert pressure regarding Trump’s comments about possibly leaving NATO or at least having allies pay their fair share.

This could also possibly be retribution by Turkish president Recep Erdogan amidst criticism of his post-coup human rights violations, arrest of UN employees and multiple travel warnings issued by the US state department to avoid Turkey. Turkey is most likely also doing this to follow the lead of several other countries that have used police crackdowns in the US as counter arguments against accusations concerning their security forces’ behavior. The warning also comes after the US issued warnings to the families of diplomatic staffers in Turkey to leave due to political unrest.

The Turkish foreign ministry also included a warning in their brief about higher risk of racist or xenophobic attacks now that Donald Trump has won the White House and emboldened some of his most racist supporters. That claim seems reasonable since groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) have reported a spike in hate crimes in the past week. Similar to the possible motivations above, this could be just another move by Turkey to move focus off of their crackdowns and hate crimes against Kurds and other political opponents in their country.

Regardless of what the Turks real motivation is, it is surely political. Whether it’s an attempt to secure their place in NATO through threats or to take focus off of their own nationalist fervor, they have no room to criticize the US. Whether you agree or disagree with the anti-Trump protesters, unlike in Turkey they still are guaranteed the right (so far) to be in the streets and to criticize Trump in the media.

Turkey on the other hand has thrown out dissenting member in parliament, shut down hundreds of media outlets and suspended or jailed thousands of critics, military personnel, judges and academics in their illegal crackdowns following July’s coup.

The left and right in the west are both critical of Turkey for similar reasons and no matter what political moves any arm of their government makes they won’t be able to stifle that criticism