Boston Celtics’ Turkish center Enes Kanter took to twitter blasting Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) over her vote last Tuesday against the Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act. If passed, it would impose wide economic sanctions against Turkey should they militarize in northern Syria. This comes less than three weeks after President Trump’s controversial decision to pull United States troops out of northern Syria, a decision which many felt left Kurdish allies vulnerable to a military attack from the west. 

The House vote last Tuesday marks the first formal response from Congress acting against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seeking to militarize against the Kurds. The House voted overwhelmingly in favor of economic sanctions with a vote of 403-16, with Rep. Omar being the only nay vote from the Democrats. 

In response to Omar’s vote, the Boston Celtics’ Enes Kanter took to twitter against Omar saying that she seems to be, “on #DictatorErdogan‘s payroll working for his interests, but not for the American people and democracy!” This adds to Kanter’s already strong stance against President Erdogan’s regime as President of Turkey.

Throughout the past few years, Kanter has been an outspoken advocate against President Erdoğan with many of his tweets and public comments against the Erdoğan administration, which resulted in warrants for his arrest in Turkey. Kanter refuses to travel with the New York Knicks (his team at the time) to London in 2017 for fear of possibly being extradited to Turkey.

This conflicted escalated further in the 2019 postseason when Turkish sports broadcast station S Sport would not air NBA games in which Kanter plays, due to his outspoken stance against the current administration. This supports Kanter’s claim that there is, “no freedom of speech in Turkey”.

This incident adds yet another layer of criticism to Rep. Omar’s already controversial first year in the U.S House of Representatives. After her first six months in office plagued with accusations of anti-Semitism, her decision to not vote for sanctions on Turkey shows brings out further criticism. Rep. Omar said her vote against the bill came because, as she claimed, sanctions on Turkey, Iran or Venezuela will hurt innocent people. This is inconsistent with her adamant support for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which would poorly impact both Jewish and Muslim Israeli citizens, according to those who oppose the movement. 

This immediately follows another controversial vote by Omar last week where she voted present on a House resolution that would affirm the U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide. Omar stated last Tuesday that she would not vote for such a resolution unless it also included additional recognition of the “earlier mass slaughters like the trans-Atlantic slave trade and Native American genocide”.

Many Republican Senators have come out in support of the sanctions on Turkey following the House vote, such as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jim Risch (R-ID) both urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to take up the bill on the Senate floor. In response, McConnell stated concerns over worsening U.S. – Turkey relations and fears for the reactions of Russia and other countries in the region. 

Written ByBen Mackillop

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