Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves to the press as he is welcomed by United States President Donald Trump to the White House. Washington, DC, May 16, 2017. (Michael Reynolds/Associated Press)

There was a lack of significant policy outcomes for either side following last week’s visit to Washington, DC, by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This frustrated United States-based opponents of Turkey’s authoritarian slide, institutionalized in its April referendum, who had been seeking more pressure on Ankara. Supporters of Erdoğan back home, meanwhile, wanted concessions from Washington such as extradition of self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen—whom Turkey blames for last summer’s failed coup—and an end to US support of Syrian Kurdish forces—whom Turkey considers to be terrorists—in the fight against the so-called Islamic State.

Erdoğan’s meeting with US President Donald Trump was largely overshadowed by yet another display of violent behavior. The Turkish president’s bodyguards beat up a small group of protesters gathered outside the residence of the country’s ambassador, to the point of hospitalization.

The reaction follows a pattern of Erdoğan responding to criticisms of state behavior and international political setbacks by focusing on what he portrays as foreign actors’ ill will toward Turkey, rather than any shortcomings in his own administration. This helps to whip up nationalist sentiment and support domestically, but threatens to harm his personal reputation, as well as that of his government, on the global stage. Read more