Booker on Erdoğan: We should not be ‘rolling out the red carpet for a ruthless authoritarian’

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said the U.S. should not be “rolling out the red carpet for a ruthless authoritarian” such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the leader visited the White House on Wednesday.

The 2020 presidential candidate said President Trump should have revoked Erdoğan’s invitation after Turkey launched an offensive into Syria last month as well as over reports of “human rights atrocities” in the country. 

“We should not be rolling out the red carpet for a ruthless authoritarian who attacks our allies, jails more journalists than any other country, erodes his country’s democracy, and sows divisions in the NATO alliance,” Booker said in a statement. 

Booker referenced reports that Turkish-backed forces were committing war crimes against minority groups in Syria and Erdoğan’s comments that ISIS is “not our concern.”

The New Jersey Democrat, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Trump has to “stand up for American values and credibility” by calling on Turkey to allow “unimpeded passage” for humanitarian organizations and citizen populations in the region and to refrain from “targeting innocent civilians.” 

Erdoğan “can’t keep distracting attention from the suffering and violence his actions have caused, and President Trump can’t keep capitulating to autocrats and strongmen,” the senator wrote.

After Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, Turkey launched an offensive against the Syrian Kurds, who helped the U.S. fight ISIS. The president’s decision drew a lot of criticism, including from his usual GOP supporters. 

Turkey, meanwhile, is feuding with the European Union. Erdoğan threatened to release ISIS prisoners into Europe after the EU put sanctions on the country for gas drilling off of Cyprus.

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