Monday, August 8, 2016

Wilson Center Accused of Orchestrating Turkey's Coup

Think tanks just can't seem to get a break this week.  First the New York Times published two hard-hitting pieces that will likely damage the reputations of some major think tanks for years to come.

Among other things, it was revealed that the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) fired three scholars for violating conflict of interest policies.

Now, John Hudson of Foreign Policy has this piece out this evening:
The Turkish government has arrested or detained tens of thousands of soldiers, police officers, academics, and journalists in the wake of last month’s failed coup attempt. Some supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have a new target: a prominent Washington think tank.
The Woodrow Wilson Center, a nonpartisan organization founded in 1968, is facing a wave of criticisms over its alleged — and wholly unproven — role in orchestrating last month’s failed putsch, which killed more than 200 people and injured more than 1,000. Erdogan retained power and has spent the past weeks carrying out purges of institutions across Turkish society.
The accusations against the Wilson Center, appearing on the front page of mainstream newspapers linked to Erdogan, prompted the think tank to take the unusual step of issuing a statement of concern about “possible reprisals” to researchers and scholars that attended a July conference in Turkey organized by the think tank. The conspiracy theories against the Wilson Center were sparked, in part, by the fact that its July 15-17 event occurred on the exact same weekend as the coup attempt.

The article goes on to note that reports in Turkey are blaming Henri Barkey, the director of Wilson Center's Middle for Program, for the botched coup.

Here is the full statement from Wilson Center stating its concerns about reprisals against Turkish colleagues.

In a tweet, FP's John Hudson (who broke this story) writes: "When think tank life stops being boring and starts getting scary..."

David Rothkopf writes: "Love the idea of a think tank orchestrating a coup attempt.  Most struggle to put on wine and cheese receptions."

In a similar vein, Alykhan Velshi writes: "Wilson Center has come a long way since my internship at AEI, when they could barely host a decent lunch."

Readers of Think Tank Watch may remember the violence that erupted earlier this year on Think Tank Row in Washington, DC amid a visit to the Brookings Institution by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.