When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Trump, Erdogan And The Limits Of Democracy

Violence breaks out in Washington during Erdogan's visit
Violence breaks out in Washington during Erdogan's visit
Rebecca Aydin


For the past 36 hours, Washington has been consumed by a pair of scandals that even eternally moderate commentators now say has spread the whiff of possible doom around the Trump presidency. On Monday it was the Washington Post that revealed that Donald Trump had divulged classified counter-terrorism information last week to Russia, potentially compromising U.S. intelligence sharing with allies. Yesterday, it was the turn of The New York Times, which broke the news that Trump had requested in February that then FBI Director James Comey halt the investigation against National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Whether this turns out to be the final implosion of his presidency, Trump is trying to maintain his schedule, which includes the start of his first foreign trip later this week. But on Tuesday, the agenda was already complicated even under normal circumstances, with a much-anticipated visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Two major issues are currently driving a stake between U.S. and Turkey relations. The first regards Turkey's wish to extradite exiled Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen from his current home in the U.S., with Ankara blaming last summer's failed coup attempt in Turkey on Gülen. The second, and more pressing, regards the Kurdish question. The U.S. has decided to directly arm the Syrian Kurds fighting ISIS. Erdoğan sees such support as undermining his government's attempt to limit the longtime push for Kurdish autonomy on Turkish territory.

While inside the White House the two presidents politely agreed to disagree, outside Erdoğan's own bodyguards were beating up peaceful Kurdish protesters near the Turkish Embassy, just a ten-minute stroll away. Videos show men with bloodied faces and shirts, and one protester holding a megaphone getting kicked in the head by a man in a suit. Nine people were injured and two were arrested following the scuffle.

This is not the first instance of belligerence from Erdoğan's security detail in the U.S. In September 2014, they assaulted Turkish reporters outside of a New York hotel where Erdoğan and Vice President Biden were meeting. In March 2016, they were involved in an altercation outside the Brookings Institution in Washington during the Nuclear Security Summit.

Few contest that both Erdoğan and Trump, in 2014 and 2016, were democratically elected to lead their respective nations. But a democracy can only live up to its name if its chosen leaders understand that their personal authority ends where the rule of law begins.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Russian Orthodox Church Has A Kremlin Spy Network — And Now It's Spreading Abroad

The Russian Orthodox Church has long supported Russia’s ongoing war effort in Ukraine. Now, clergy members in other countries are suspected of collaborating with and recruiting for Russian security forces.

Photo of Russian soldiers during mass at an Orthodox church in Moscow.

Russian soldiers during mass at an Orthodox church in Moscow.

Wiktoria Bielaszyn

WARSAW — Several countries have accused members of the Russian Orthodox clergy of collaborating with Russian security services, pushing Kremlin policy inside the church and even recruiting spies from within.

On Sept. 21, Bulgaria deported Russian Archimandrite Vassian, guardian of the Orthodox parish in Sofia, along with two Belarusian priests. In a press release, the Bulgarian national security agency says that clergy were deported because they posed a threat to national security. "The measures were taken due to their actions against the security and interests of the Republic of Bulgaria," Bulgarian authorities wrote in a statement, according to Radio Svoboda.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

These reports were also confirmed by Russia's ambassador to Bulgaria, Eleonora Mitrofanova, who told Russian state news agency TASS that the priests must leave Bulgaria within 24 hours. “After being declared persona non grata, Wassian and the other two clerics were taken home under police supervision to pack up their belongings. Then they will be taken to the border with Serbia" she said.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest