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Turkey Is Having a Rough June — and Erdogan Is Making it Worse

This week Turkish leaders and pro-government journalists have made an array of bizarre statements.

A Turkish nationalist protester wearing Ottoman clothes holds placard during a protest against Germany on June 2, 2016 in front of the Germany consulate in Istanbul after German parliament labelled the World War I massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on June 2 warned that the German parliament's recognition of World War I killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide would "seriously affect" ties.  / AFP / OZAN KOSE        (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
A Turkish nationalist protester wearing Ottoman clothes holds placard during a protest against Germany on June 2, 2016 in front of the Germany consulate in Istanbul after German parliament labelled the World War I massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on June 2 warned that the German parliament's recognition of World War I killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide would "seriously affect" ties. / AFP / OZAN KOSE (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

Between getting accused of genocide by a major ally and suffering repeated bombings by Kurdish militants, Turkey is having a pretty tough June — and it’s only been eight days. Bizarre and in some cases offensive comments from Turkish leaders and pro-government journalists aren’t making things any better.

On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dubbed women who choose careers over having babies “deficient” and “half persons.” Working women can presumably safeguard their femininity by following Erdogan’s recommendation to have at least three babies.

On Tuesday, the pro-government newspaper Gunes accused Germany of secretly using an unspecified terrorist network to carry out Tuesday’s car bomb attack in Istanbul that killed six police officers and five civilians. The ostensible reason, according to the state-friendly outlet? Berlin’s anger over a recent German resolution labeling the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 a genocide.

The German parliament approved the measure on June 2. Turkey responded by recalling its ambassador to Germany the same day.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in a speech following the vote that a “racist Armenian lobby” was behind the resolution.

Gunes claimed that Turkey’s strong response had provoked Germany. “Falling into panic, it has gone back to its old habits,” the cover of the newspaper read. It went on to accuse Germany of having “the terrorist organizations that it uses like marionettes carry out a bloody attack in Istanbul.”

Erdogan blamed Turkish militants for the attacks.

On Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu kept the anti-German insults flying by asserting that the country’s free press was not actually free.

“In Germany, nothing is left to chance,” he reportedly told the state news agency TNT, “None of the headlines hostile to Recep Tayyip Erdogan are random. In Germany, the press is not free.”

This week, a Turkish mayor also covered the Mercedes logo on his car with a black cloth to protest the vote, according to the website Turkish Minute, which was formed in March after the Erdogan regime took over the once-independent English-language newspaper Today’s Zaman.

Photo credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images

Megan Alpert is a fellow at Foreign Policy. Her previous bylines have included The Guardian, Guernica Daily, and Earth Island Journal. Twitter: @megan_alpert

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