Frantic diplomatic exchanges are underway following Prime Minister Erdogan’s pointed comments aimed at the USA.
At a political rally in Samsun, the prime minister said: “In recent days, interestingly, some ambassadors have been engaging in provocative actions. I am calling out to them from Samsun: Do your own business,” he said. “We do not have to keep you in our country.”
The outburst was clearly aimed at the USA’s Ambassador to Turkey, Francis Ricciardone who was visiting the country at the time.
It had been claimed that five days after the corruption scandal became public, the USA’s Ambassador had told a group of EU ambassadors that “You will watch the fall of an empire”.
After Erdogan’s accusations, the US embassy issued a statement vigorously denying any involvement in the corruption debacle, describing newspaper reports as “downright lies and slander”.
The probe into allegations of widespread bribery by members of Erdogan’s government has exposed a bitter feud between the AKP and influential Muslim scholar Fethullah Gulen, whose followers hold top positions in the police, judiciary and secret services.
Twenty-four people have been charged so far in connection with the investigation, including the sons of Interior Minister Muammer Guler and Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, as well as the chief executive of state-owned Halkbank.
Diplomatic relations between the Turkey and the USA have become increasingly shaky as Turkish officials and pro-government media continue a campaign against what PM Erdogan described as “dark forces” that that hide backstage of the current corruption investigations.
Bilateral ties are suffering further strain as Washington has issued a dire warning to Ankara that such a smear campaign against the US and its official could seriously affect bilateral relations.
Recently the USA and Turkey have disagreed over major issues such as Syria and Turkey’s brutal police crackdown on the Gezi Park demonstrators.