On May 4, a pro-government Turkish magazine published a special edition falsely alleging that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople (Istanbul) helped stage the July 15, 2016, coup attempt.
What on the surface seems simply an esoteric argument over ecclesiastical jurisdiction is anything but. At the heart of the schism lie the ideological underpinnings for Putin’s new nationalism, and its violent manifestations in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.
Pastor Brunson is free, but many others are not. The U.S. should not push Turkey away, but continue the hard work of diplomatic engagement around core human rights issues. It should also continue to engage broad range of challenges these partner countries are facing in the region.
Although Turkish human rights abuses may seem like a secondary concern for the US in light of Turkish threats against US partners in Syria and Turkey’s deepening relationship with Russia and Iran, these issues cannot be separated.