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Canada’s diplomatic blunder in Turkey

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Erdogan addresses his ruling party members at the parliament, in Ankara, Turkey, on Feb. 12, 2020 (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Adnan R. Khan: Turkey’s standoff with 10 ambassadors, including Canada’s, was political grandstanding, and Erdogan came out the winner

If you spend enough time in Turkey, you inevitably figure out a basic rule in its politics: Never pass up an opportunity to feign insult and outrage.

Perhaps it’s built into the Turkish psyche. Turkish popular culture is replete with examples of wounded pride over the slightest of slights. Indeed, the worst insult you can deliver in Turkey is serefsiz!, meaning: “you have no honour!”, which in Canada might elicit a quizzical shrug, but in Turkey is a call to arms.

No one embodies this sense of wounded pride better than Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He has deployed it against the European Union for its alleged hostility to Turkey’s accession bid; he has used it in large dollops against the U.S. for, among other things, refusing to sell Turkey F-35 fighter jets after his government purchased a missile defense system from Russia, which could potentially undermine those same fighter jets; and he has verbally bludgeoned just about anyone not willing to give Turkey the respect he believes it deserves.

Fair enough. In the high-stakes politics in Turkey’s neighbourhood, the leaders who generally come out on top are the ones who can project steely resolve. If you’re going to do something you know Erdogan can use to burnish his tough guy image, prepare to be tough-guyed.

So it was a little surprising last week when ambassadors from 10 western nations, including Canada, the U.S., Germany and France, issued a joint declaration calling for the release of jailed Turkish billionaire philanthropist, Osman Kavala.

Predictably, Erdogan did as Erdogan does: he feigned outrage. Over the following days, he hinted that the ambassadors would be expelled from Turkey. If he followed through on the threat, it would be the worst diplomatic crisis in Turkey’s history, but whether the threat was genuine or not was up for debate.

I found it hard to imagine that Erdogan would create a diplomatic rift simultaneously with Turkey’s top trading partner (Germany), its top arms dealer (the U.S.) and its top foreign investor (the Netherlands) in response to a purely symbolic statement from their ambassadors.

But then on Saturday he announced publicly that he had ordered Turkey’s foreign ministry to declare the ambassadors personae non gratae. The Turkish lira briefly went into freefall and the most faint-hearted experts predicted an escalating diplomatic tit-for-tat that could permanently wreck the West’s relationship with one of its most important “eastern” allies.

That of course didn’t happen. What did happen was a lot of political theatre.

Erdogan may be somewhat hobbled by age and reported health issues, but he has by no means lost his political instincts. Bashing the West is a winning political strategy in Turkey these days. Cynicism of Western countries runs deep in society and cuts across all political lines.

The last few years have been particularly damaging for European nations, as well as the U.S., with questionable leaders like Donald Trump, Britain’s Boris Johnson and France’s Emmanuel Macron creating the impression here that the West writ large is on the decline. Even Turkey’s pro-Europe secularists are now questioning the wisdom of joining the European Union, with less than half in favour, according to a 2018 survey by the Center for American Progress, compared to nearly three-quarters a decade ago.

With Erdogan’s economic credentials collapsing as Turkey’s economy careens toward disaster, the nationalist card is increasingly becoming his one source of electoral strength. A gang of diplomats from Western countries pontificating about Turkey’s failings is just the kind of ammunition a politician like Erdogan, who thrives on political pugilism, craves.

Their intention, of course, was noble, and justifiable, in terms of international law, human rights and diplomatic norms. Kavala, who has spoken out against Turkey’s slide into authoritarianism, has languished in prison for four years without ever being convicted of a crime. Whenever Turkish courts have cleared him of criminal wrongdoing, the government has conjured up new allegations to keep him locked up.

Human rights activists point out that the only “crime” Kavala appears to have committed is posing a threat to Erdogan and the ruling AK Party because of his personal wealth and access to resources, which he has used to support civil society movements calling for the rule of law to be respected in Turkey.

In December 2019, the European Court of Human Rights agreed, concluding that Kavala’s detention violated his rights and ordered his release. Turkey, as a member of the Council of Europe, was required to abide by the Court’s decision. It hasn’t.

But the rightness of the diplomats’ move does not mean it was strategically advisable, especially at a time when Turkey is already being considered for suspension from the Council of Europe—in part because of the Kavala case—and has been grey-listed by the Financial Action Task Force for not doing enough to counter money laundering and terrorist financing.

Those moves will hurt the Turkish economy, which will inevitably make Erdogan’s re-election prospects dimmer than they already are. A symbolic statement from a group of diplomats was never going to have much of an impact.

“What’s unusual here,” Ilter Turan, a Professor emeritus in political science at Istanbul’s Bilgi University, told me soon after Erdogan made his call for the ambassadors to be expelled, “is that 10 ambassadors got together and signed a letter. The collective action doesn’t do much except create the impression that these Western countries are getting together and scheming against Turkey.”

How Canada got caught up in all this is not hard to imagine: as a diminishing voice on the international stage, the Canadian foreign policy establishment is looking for ways to join multilateral initiatives where Canada can have an impact on global affairs. Most Canadian foreign policy experts agree that this is the right strategy for Canada.

But at same time, it’s important to steer clear of purely symbolic moves that can easily backfire. In this case, all 10 embassies have now issued a statement saying they respect the rules of the Vienna Convention governing diplomatic behaviour, referring to Article 41 in the agreement which states no diplomat will interfere in the host county’s domestic affairs.

Erdogan has taken that as an apology and backed off from the expulsion threat. But he will no doubt use this moment to declare victory against Western imperialism. Outrage wins.

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Kelly Rowland Admits She’d Love To See A 4th ‘Merry Liddle’ Movie: ‘Everyone Loves This Family’

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Kelly Rowland

Kelly Rowland is back for ‘Merry Liddle Christmas Baby’ on Lifetime. She spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HL about Jacquie and Tyler’s next chapter, a fourth movie, and more.

There’s a Liddle baby on the way! Kelly Rowland and Thomas Cadrot return as Jacquie and Tyler in Lifetime’s Merry Liddle Christmas Baby, which premieres on November 27 at 8 p.m. ET. This holiday season, the beloved couple is gearing up for parenthood! HollywoodLife got EXCLUSIVE scoop from Kelly about how Jacquie is handling pregnancy, a fourth movie, and why this Christmas is extra special for her.

“She’s honestly trying to figure out everything in the least stressful way possible because she is OCD,” Kelly told HollywoodLife. “She loves to make sure that everything is the way she would think it should go. She’s a bit of a control freak. She’s trying to plan it out to perfection and things with her family and with pregnancy, which she’ll realize it’s really out of her control.”

Kelly Rowland’s character Jacquie is pregnant in ‘Merry Liddle Christmas Baby.’ (Lifetime)

Merry Liddle Christmas Baby marks the third Merry Liddle movie. Kelly would love to explore more stories with the Liddle family in a potential fourth movie. “I think that everyone loves this family. I think they’re very relatable,” she said. “I think that there’s someone in your family that you feel relates to someone from the Liddle family or a dynamic that relates to the Liddle family. If we can keep sharing these stories with people, why not? I would love to, and I love being around my family cast. They’re so much fun and we have a great time. There are so many stories that we can tell.”

Over the course of the past two movies, fans have watched Jacquie and Tyler’s love story blossom. Kelly revealed that she loves how Tyler has made Jacquie “relax” more. “He definitely made her relax because she was always moving and busy and uptight and this and that, you know what I mean? He was just like, you gotta chill. He’s a center for her, and I think that it’s so sweet. I think that as far as who she is with him, I think that he’s just always inspired by her. It’s a really sweet relationship that I think that everybody really gravitates towards,” she told HollywoodLife.

This holiday season is going to be extra special for Kelly and her family. It will be her first with her second child, Noah. Kelly gushed she “cannot wait” for Noah’s first Christmas with his family.

Kelly Rowland
Kelly Rowland and Thomas Cadrot as Jacquie and Tyler. (Lifetime)

“Noah’s growing at such a rapid rate because of his brother [Titan],” Kelly said. “He’s trying to keep up with Titan and the rest of his cousins. We’re always around family, and Noah’s trying to keep up with all the big kids. I’m actually wishing that he would slow down a little bit, but he already feels like a one-year-old. It’s the strangest thing. He’s trying to walk and he’s only 10 months. He’s trying to walk, and he’s just doing so much. I just want him to slow down just a little bit. But shopping for presents and stuff for him is going to be fun and just showing him what we do and tasting different things. It’s going to be fun. I’m just excited that we just get to have a beautiful Christmas all together just settled as a family. We’ve been doing a lot of traveling and moving around this year, so we’re just going to be still.”

The singer/actress also stressed that her oldest son, Titan, is the “best big brother you’ve ever seen. He really is. He’s so proud. He has his moments where he can be a little rough with his brother because he’s thinking that he’s actually older sometimes. But for the most part, he’s just so grateful that his brother’s here. He’s really is and it’s the sweetest thing. He wanted a sibling so bad and has the nerve to actually be asking me for one more. I’m really happy with my two for now.”

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90 Day Fiance’s Brittany Banks Shows Off 22 Lbs Weight Loss

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VIDEO: 90 Day Fiance's Brittany Banks Shows Off 22 Lbs Weight Loss, Shares Diet and Workout Routine After Stunning Transformation

Credit: Instagram/BrittanyBanks

90 Day Fiance’s Brittany Banks is single and ready to mingle. But we have a feeling she won’t be single for long as her recent body transformation has her looking hot, hot, hot.

Brittany reveals the final number on the scale after her dramatic transformation, is 130 lbs, which means her final weight loss is 70 pounds!

Brittany showed off her brand new body in an Instagram post of her sporting a flashy new bikini. The caption revealed hints at how she achieved her weight loss success.

Brittany revealed that she had added walking to her fitness routine and made some “focused tweaks” to her diet regimen.

She went on to say that if she ever wanted to go back up in weight and be a little curvier, she would just add proteins and carbs back into her diet.

Thanks for the tips, Brittany!

While Brittany’s health has never been better, her love life has taken some serious hits over the past few years.

During 90 Day Fiance, Brittany had flown to Jordan to be with her ex-boyfriend Yazan Abu Harira but almost as soon as she stepped off the plane, the two began having problems and fans wondered if their relationship would make it.

Yazan came from a strict Muslim background and felt Brittany should mold to fit that lifestyle, starting with her clothes. Yazan had asked Brittany to dress more conservatively and she did not take it well. But her reaction to that paled in comparison to the one at Yazan’s request that Brittany converts to Islam within three days of her arrival. Ultimately Brittany felt the rules and regulations of Yazan’s lifestyle were too controlling for her taste.

Brittany’s bombshell that she was still legally married to her ex,  did not help matters between the tense couple and his family. Finally, the couple decided to part ways after months of a tumultuous relationship and Brittany flew back to the United States.

Brittany appeared on the 90 Day Fiance spin-off  90 Day: The Single Life and dated two men on that series, but ultimately neither panned out and Brittany remained single.

So now Brittany is focusing fully on her health and new fitness-toned body. But knowing Brittany, a new love interest can’t be far behind.

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Brooke Shields, 56, Rocks A Strapless Red Swimsuit As She Goes For A Dip On Thanksgiving — Photos

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Brooke Shields, 56, Rocks A Strapless Red Swimsuit As She Goes For A Dip On Thanksgiving — Photos

Brooke Shields braved a cold plunge pool on Thanksgiving, but looked amazing while doing it!

Brooke Shields, 56, looked absolutely amazing in a strapless red swimsuit on Thanksgiving! The actress donned the one piece on Thursday, Nov. 25 as she bravely stepped into a cold plunge pool, which are believed to reduce muscle pain and inflammation by instantly numbing the nerves surrounding joints. She appropriately set the video to Bill Withers “Lovely Day” — although, we aren’t sure that cold water was that lovely!

“New Thanksgiving tradition,” The Blue Lagoon star quipped in her caption, including a turkey and snowflake emoji. While the weather looked sunny, it was more like a spring day in Los Angeles with temperatures falling around 70 degrees. Brooke hilariously reacted to the cold water as she dipped a toe in, opting to keep her long brunette locks up in a bun to avoid getting wet. She slowly backed into the water, rigidly putting her arms in before fully lowering her body and shoulders.

Swimsuits For All/MEGA

Several of her famous pals got a kick out of the pic, including Christie Brinkley, 67. “Body-ody-ody‼️” the super model commented with three fire emojis, seemingly referencing “Body” by Megan Thee Stallion. Ali Wentworth quipped, “You’re supposed to cook the Turkey not yourself…” while Sophia Bush reacted, “Cold plunge!? LOVE.” Canadian television host Kuljeet Kaila hilariously added, “In Cali? That’s like Canadian summer weather.”

It’s no surprise to see Brooke looking so good: the actress recently opened up about feeling more “confident” as she hit her mid-50s. “I feel stronger, I feel sexier, I feel less burdened by: ‘Oh, what do they think of me?’” she said in an interview to Irish Times while promoting her new Netflix movie A Castle For Christmas.

“I’m not encumbered in the same way that I spent a great deal of my youth in. I still care about people, but I don’t put myself in this position to feel ‘less than’. And all of a sudden, I was like: ‘Why am I not represented?’ Why am I told: ‘You’re over because you’re not in your 20s’? I’m 56 and I feel more empowered now than I ever did,’” she added.

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