Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seems to have it out for Enes Kanter, the New York Knicks professional basketball player. As ridiculous as it sounds for the autocratic ruler of Turkey to care so much about an NBA player, the situation is so severe that Kanter won’t travel overseas because he fears being poisoned by agents working on behalf of the Turkish government, according to The Daily News.
Kanter is an outspoken critic of the harsh Turkish regime, and for that, he fears retribution in the form of spies killing him, which is why he won’t be going to the Knicks game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 17 in London. Kanter is actually a wanted criminal and does not have a passport to use to get into Europe because it was revoked, according to The Daily News. The lack of a passport is a moot point because he had no intentions of traveling anyway.
“I talked to the front office and they said I’m not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president,” Kanter said. “There’s a chance that I can get killed out there. So that’s why I talked to the front office. I’m not going so I’m just going to stay here, just practice.”
He continued about how “It’s pretty sad because it affects my career, my basketball. Because I want to be out there but just because of that one lunatic guy, that one maniac, I can’t go out there and do my job. It’s pretty sad.”
Kanter had no doubts that he could get murdered if he went overseas and that Turkey has the capabilities. “Oh yeah. Easy. They have a lot of spies there. I can be killed easily.”
A Knicks spokesman cited visa issues instead of assassination concerns.
The Jewish Voice has reported about Turkey being in the news recently after President Donald J. Trump says he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talked about the planned U.S. military pull out from Syria during a “long and productive call.”
Trump gave few details about his conversation. But he tweeted he and Erdogan discussed Islamic State, trade, and what he called “the slow and highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area.”
Erdogan’s office said in a statement he and Trump agreed to “ensure coordination between their countries’ military, diplomatic, and other officials to avoid a power vacuum which could result following any abuse of the withdrawal and transition phase in Syria.”
Erdogan said that Turkey is postponing an operation against Kurdish forces in Syria in the wake of Trump’s decision.
Trump has declared the Islamic State defeated, although he’s also said Turkey will defeat what remains of the Islamic State. He said that it is time for other members of the anti-ISIS coalition to step in and clean up the last remaining pockets, though his national security adviser is anticipating a slower withdrawal of American troops.
His decision to leave Syria is unpopular among many in Washington, including within his own administration.
Trump’s former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, and former special envoy to the global coalition fighting Islamic State, Brett McGurk, have both resigned, at least in part, because of Syria.
Turkish military officials have not given an exact reason why their troops have headed to Manbij.
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