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.