Policy expert: Erdoğan wants to ramp up anti-American sentiment to distract Turkish public

American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Michael Rubin said on Monday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was ramping up anti-American sentiment in an effort to distract from political polarization in Turkey. 

"As [Erdoğan] consolidates dictatorial power, the thing to remember is that in this most recent election where he took over the presidency with full executive powers, he only won 52 percent of the vote officially," Rubin told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball on "Rising."

"Now, unofficially he was probably closer to 46 percent, and so the point is that Turkey remains as divided and as polarized as ever, and that's one of the reasons why President Erdoğan wants to ramp up anti-Americanism because he wants to distract the Turkish public," he continued, referring to Erdoğan's recent reelection victory. 
 
U.S.-Turkish tensions have dramatically increased in recent days over the fate of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been held under house arrest in Istanbul for roughly two years on terrorism and espionage-related charges. 
 
The Trump administration has hit two senior Turkish officials with sanctions over Brunson's detention. 
 
 
Erdoğan told supporters on Saturday that Turkey would stand up to what he called an “attempted economic coup” from the U.S. 
 
“We tell them that we see their game and we challenge them,” he said. 

— Julia Manchester