About a year and a half ago, on Sept. 18, 2017, a relatively unknown Minnesota state representative flew to New York City to hold a closed-door meeting with the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was in town for the 72nd U.N. General Assembly. This meeting of now-Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., with Mr. Erdogan, the despotic ruler of Turkey, went almost entirely unreported, as it was not open to the press and Omar was not a high-profile figure. Since then, photos of the meeting surfaced on social media, but it largely appeared that there was no report detailing what happened during the hour-long meeting.
But one local Minnesota paper that covers the Somali community did receive access to the Erdogan-Omar meeting. That publication is the relatively obscure Tusmo Times, a Somali paper that covers the Twin Cities metro area. Abdirahman Mukhtar, its founder and editor, wrote a story in the Somali language discussing the meeting. For reasons unknown, the piece has since been deleted by the Tusmo Times. However, a copy of the report was obtained from archive.org’s Wayback Machine and translated by One Hour Translate.
The story makes clear, through photos and text, that Omar led the Minnesota-based Somali delegation (which included her non-politician husband, who is seen next to her in photos) that met with Erdogan. This is quite remarkable, given that Omar was then a mere Minnesota state representative, meeting face to face with the leader of an 80-million-person nation with one of the most powerful militaries in the world.
Speaking to the Tusmo Times, Omar said, according to the translation, that she met with Erdogan for about an hour and that the two discussed issues involving Omar’s native Somalia and issues for Somalis in Minnesota. She thanked Erdogan for Turkey’s support for the Rohingya people in Myanmar. The two also discussed investment and trade between Turkey and Somalia. The meeting ended with Erdogan asking Omar to voice her support for Turkey. The report concludes by adding that Omar not only met with Erdogan, but also with the Turkish prime minister and other senior Turkish officials.
While it’s not particularly shocking that Omar remains invested in the success of her native country, the Minnesota representative has been consistently sowing doubt about whether U.S. Jews as a whole can fairly represent American interests. She has taken to using anti-Semitic tropes in maintaining that support for Israel in the Jewish community is an example of having dual loyalties.
Of course, support for Israel, the only liberal democratic country in the Middle East, is not remotely comparable to her continuing support for the rogue dictatorships in Turkey and Somalia.
The day the story was posted, Omar tweeted about her meeting with Erdogan, linking to the now-deleted Tusmo Times piece.
Xildhibaan Ilhan Omar iyo Madaxweyne Recep Erdoğan oo magaalada New York ku kulmay – https://t.co/M1SiigVw6f
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) September 19, 2017
When news of the meeting surfaced, she immediately received fierce blowback on several social media platforms for propping up Erdogan.
“Did you ask Erdogan about the jailed journalists?” wrote one respondent on her Facebook page. “How about the 100 thousand innocent people he jailed in Turkey.”
“Did you discuss the atrocities of the Armenian Genocide and his refusal to recognize them?” said another individual.
“What the hell is wrong with you?? He’s a DICTATOR,” another replied.
It remains unclear when the article was deleted from the Tusmo Times, but other stories from around the same time remain on the publication’s website, so it doesn’t appear that the disappearance of the September 2017 article involves a storage issue.
The Erdogan-Omar meeting came on the heels of a major incident in Washington, D.C. involving the Turkish delegation. A few months earlier, Erdogan appeared to order his bodyguards to brutally attack protesters outside a Turkish diplomatic compound in the U.S. capital. A similar incident occurred in New York just days after the Omar-Erdogan meeting, when Erdogan’s security detail roughed up demonstrators protesting Erdogan’s crimes against the Kurds.
The Erdogan-Omar meeting occurred one year following a supposed failed coup attempt against Erdogan. Erdogan later weaponized the reported coup attempt to imprison thousands of academics, journalists, students, and democracy activists. Over the course of Erdogan’s presidency, Turkey has abandoned its secular founding and has transitioned into an aspiring Islamist theocracy that supports terrorist groups throughout the Middle East and greater Islamic world.
Although Rep. Omar has not spoken out much about the politics of her homeland, Somalia remains a ruthless dictatorship that abuses the rights of its citizens. Omar, however, continues to endorse candidates for president there, as if the largely failed state is representative of a liberal democracy.
Rep. Omar published an op-ed in the Washington Post Sunday attempting to clear up her controversial foreign policy views, proclaiming herself a champion of international human rights. She wrote that U.S. foreign policy must “center human rights, justice and peace as the pillars of America’s engagement in the world,” yet noticeably said nothing about the radicalism of Erdogan and other Islamist regimes throughout the world.
One month after her meeting with Erdogan, Omar thanked Turkey for delivering aid to Somalia after a series of bombings in Mogadishu.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) October 18, 2017
Erdogan’s administration has continuously bailed out the corrupt dictatorship in Somalia, providing its leadership with military support, economic aid, and even food rations when necessary. In late 2017, Turkey opened up a large military base in Somalia and has since given weapons and aid to Somali soldiers.