We should commend Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman for his support of religious freedom in Turkey, the rule of law, and justice in the eastern Mediterranean and the southern Caucasus. Regarding religious freedom in Turkey, he released a self-explanatory statement.
In the document, Fetterman expresses opposition to Turkey’s Treatment of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew:
He opposes Turkey for placing “religious freedom limitations on the spiritual head of the Greek Orthodox Church and of over 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.”
He also states that as a U.S. Senator, he:
Will support the Greek Orthodox’s fight for religious freedom in Turkey and strongly believe[s] that Turkey must protect the religious freedoms of the Greek Orthodox Church.
“I am aware of Turkey’s treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarch,” Fetterman stressed, and
“I strongly support President Biden and Secretary Blinken’s urgency in supporting religious freedom for religious minorities in the region. I look forward to supporting the Orthodox Christian community in this fight and promoting joint action among all faith leaders.”
Fetterman’s Republican opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz, an American of Turkish descent who holds dual citizenship (American and Turkish), served in the Turkish military, and voted in the Turkish election but not the American, does not object to Turkey’s abuse of the Orthodox Christian community. Besides his love for firearms, the leading cause of death for American children, and being an election denier, Dr. Oz also denies that the Armenian Genocide happened.
To his credit, Lt. Governor Fetterman, The Armenian Weekly, October, 26, 2022 (armenianweekly.com), reported:
“ Issued a series of statements outlining his support for Armenian Genocide affirmation and education, as well as a broad range of Armenian and Greek American concerns. Lt. Governor Fetterman stated:
— “As a Pennsylvanian, I welcomed long overdue US government recognition of the Armenian Genocide – by the US House and Senate in 2019 and by President Biden in 2021 – and will, as a U.S. Senator, support promoting public education about this atrocity.”
— “I support policy provisions – adopted recently by the US House as part of the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – that require close US scrutiny of US military aid to Azerbaijan (Speier Amendment), call for State Department and Pentagon reports on Azerbaijani war crimes (Cardenas Amendment) and demand Azerbaijan’s release of Armenian prisoners of war (Schiff Amendment). “
— “I join with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez in calling for an immediate suspension of US military aid to Azerbaijan and a robust U.S. humanitarian aid program for the victims of Azerbaijani aggression in both Artsakh and Armenia.”
— “I also support the NDAA Amendment adopted in the House (Pappas Amendment) and introduced in the Senate (Menendez Amendment). With regard to Greece & Cyprus, Sen. Menendez’s two pieces of landmark legislation that have passed into law – the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 and the US-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act of 2022 – promote US interests and values. I support the continued and full implementation of Senator Menendez’s legislation.”
The Pappas Amendment, adopted in the Senate by Senator Menendez, blocks the sale of F-16 air fighters to Turkey unless Ankara stops violating Greece’s sovereignty.
The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019, authorizes new security aid for Cyprus and Greece and allows the former to purchase American arms. It also permits “the establishment of a United States-Eastern Mediterranean Energy Center to facilitate energy cooperation among the U.S., Israel, Greece, and Cyprus.”
The US-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act of 2021, “boosts support for Greek military modernization by authorizing new transfers of American military equipment and fostering increased multilateral engagement among Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the United States.”
Dr. Oz refuses to condemn the autocratic Turkish regime for obliterating freedom, human rights and democracy in Turkey. He remains silent while Erdoğan unleashes anti-Semitic attacks and calls the Jews “Nazis.”
The liberal activists PAC, “Really American,” is highly concerned about Dr. Oz's Turkish connections. Many people fear he will be a threat to U.S. national security if he becomes a senator. Even The Washington Post, which cherry-picks and often conceals Turkey’s human rights violations and imperialism, voiced worries about Dr. Oz’s close links to Turkey.
“Behind Dr. Oz's Curtain,” an article published by Benjamin Baird in The National Review (December 23, 2021) and republished by The Middle East Forum, is also alarming.
“After announcing his decision to run for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz has been publicly lambasted for peddling "miracle" weight-loss supplements and other medical misinformation. However, Pennsylvania voters should be far more concerned with the daytime television star's connections to Turkey's Islamist government.
Oz's links to Turkey's authoritarian Justice and Development Party (AKP) extend to foreign agents and proxies accused of operating a secret lobby in the U.S. and spying on American citizens. These associations raise urgent questions about the Senate candidate's loyalty to an illiberal, often antagonistic foreign government that finds itself increasingly at odds with American interests,”
Baird pointed out.
In a 2019 interview with TRT TURK, Dr. Oz acknowledged meeting with Erdoğan and touted his relationship with him.
“I met with our leader in Turkey. There is the question of how I can help Turkey as a representative,”
Dr. Oz explained.
Currently, vast differences separate the United States and Erdoğan's Turkey:
Erdoğan’s regime is tearing Turkey's democratic norms apart, violating human rights, and imprisoning journalists and political opponents.
The Turkish ruler significantly curtailed the rights of women.
Dying to Divorce (2021), a British documentary directed by Chloe Fairweather portrays the brutal treatment of women in Turkey. President Erdoğan tells his audiences, “You cannot put women and men on an equal footing,” and “that’s against nature.”
The Turkish regime has also been notoriously brutal toward LGBT communities.
Erdoğan is cozy with Putin and says Turkey plans to buy more Russian defense systems (S-400 missiles).
Though a NATO member, Turkey plays a double game in the war in Ukraine.
Turkey threatens Greece, the Kurds in Syria, and continues to occupy and colonize northern Cyprus, friends and allies of the United States.
Ankara targets Armenia and encourages Azerbaijan’s aggression.
“Terrorist Turkey accuses Finland and Sweden of supporting terrorists” and stalls their entry into NATO. David Phillips, the director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, in his book An Uncertain Ally: Turkey Under Erdoğans Dictatorship (2017), provides a detailed account of the Turkish regime’s connections with terrorists and other criminal entities.
Erdoğans imperialism and neo-Ottoman ambitions clash with President Biden’s vision of a world order based on the rule of law.
Decades of appeasing and pampering the Turks, ignoring their aggression and human rights violations, and overrating Turkey’s strategic value and importance had their toll. They have led the Turkish leaders to believe that they are invulnerable and can commit crimes because they can escape punishment.
Turkey is not vital to the U.S. The United States and its allies won all of their critical battles (World War I, II, and the Cold War), while Turkey stood with the other side or was neutral. As the Turks sided with America’s enemies or abstained from participating in these conflicts, the United States and its friends could not have prevailed if Turkey had been of critical importance.
On the contrary, the United States is of vital importance to Turkey. It is undeniable that Ankara depends militarily and economically on the United States and the West to survive. It is, therefore, absurd to continue to support and pamper the hostile Turkish regime to check and prevent the expansion of other evil and dangerous governments.
Rather than appeasers and apologists for aggressors and human rights violators, we need leaders in our government (both the congress and the executive) who can:
Distinguish between right and wrong.
Fight for justice, and respect international law.
Recognize, as President Biden does, that the rule of law and democratic tenets best serve U.S. interests and humanity.
Continue to refute, as President Biden did in Ukraine, Putin’s claims that we “are all the same: practicing double standards, preaching about values to camouflage the pursuit of our own interests and deploying propaganda to weaken foes” (Michael McFaul, 2018).
Dr. Mehmet Oz does not possess these leadership qualities.