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Is Washington enabling despotism in Turkey?

Washington's muted response to growing authoritarianism in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is spurring accusations that it is empowering him.
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hold a joint news conference in the White House Rose Garden in Washington, May 16, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS)   - RTXZPC4

"We would expect that Turkey will follow its own democratic procedures … I am not going to speak to the specifics of an internal process there inside Turkey. Gotta go." With these dismissive comments, US State Department spokesman John Kirby ducked questions at a press briefing last week about a Turkish government-inspired bill to strip lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity and clear the path for their prosecution over alleged crimes.

Championed by Turkey's unabashedly authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the legislation targets members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). Just days before Kirby's remarks, the HDP's charismatic co-chair, Selahattin Demirtas, was in the US capital where he met with senior State Department and White House staff.

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