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US-Turkey crisis averted over corruption probe

The United States may be rankled, however, by the Turkish prime minister implying that Washington was part of international conspiracy behind the corruption scandal.
U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone (L, with white hair) speaks to media outside of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara February 1, 2013. A suicide bomber from a far-left group killed a Turkish security guard at the U.S. embassy in Ankara on Friday, blowing the door off a side entrance and sending smoke and debris flying into the street. The attacker blew himself up inside U.S. property, Ankara Governor Alaaddin Yuksel said. The blast sent masonry spewing out of the wall and could be heard a mile away. REU

The massive corruption probe that has left Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the most damaging crisis of his political career has started to spill over into Ankara’s relations with Washington. A crisis between the two countries has been averted for now, following intense diplomatic contacts, but Western diplomats have confirmed to Al-Monitor that patience with Erdogan is running thin on the American side, where officials are threatening dire consequences to relations should he continue in this vein.

Never the one for diplomatic niceties or sensitivities when it comes to politicking, Erdogan has latched on to reports in Turkey targeting US Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone Jr. in connection with the current probe. After accusing the ambassador, without naming him, of engaging in “provocative actions,” Erdogan even threatened to send him packing. Erdogan’s attack followed an orchestrated and concerted assault on the ambassador by pro-government media trying to deflect attention from the government after news of the corruption scandal hit the headlines on Dec. 17. Days later, on Dec. 21, Aksam, Star and Yeni Safak accused Washington, in large print, of being behind the probe that has left four government ministers under suspicion.

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