Turkish reporters loyal to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have claimed that the anti-government protests currently gripping the nation have been carefully orchestrated and planned by prominent Jewish officials and a conservative Washington, D.C., think tank.
As anti-government protests continue in Istanbul, Turkish media outlets have begun reporting that the demonstrations are part of an anti-Erdogan plot organized by members of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank that is home to many former senior U.S. officials.
"Apparently, a meeting took place between some of our scholars and outsiders, and these Jews (for many, though not all, at the alleged meeting are Jews) and their fellow travelers planned the whole thing," AEI wrote on its website Wednesday in a statement lambasting the reports.
The Turkish reports mention several former U.S. government insiders, including Bush administration national security adviser Elliott Abrams, former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
The Turkish reports also claim that Jewish officials and so-called "neo-cons" associated with the American Israel Public Affairs Council (AIPAC), America’s most prominent pro-Israel lobby, are involved in the plot, which was supposedly hatched during a secret meeting in February.
"According to this, the meeting was held at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which carries out its activities with the support of the Jewish lobby AIPAC," stateda Tuesday report in Yeni Safak, a pro-government newspaper.
"The ‘Istanbul Uprising’ scenario was simulated on 12 February in order ‘to bring the apolitical Turkish youth out on the streets,’" the report says.
The reports erroneously claim that AEI’s Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser, secretly met with other Jewish government insiders to hatch the anti-Erdogan plot
AEI called the claims ridiculous in a statement on its website on Tuesday and later told the Washington Free Beacon that Erdogan loyalists are delving deep into anti-Semitic waters in an effort to stymie the protests.
"It's a testament to how far Turkey has sunk under Erdogan that his newspaper cronies are peddling conspiracy theories that read like an addenda to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion," said Danielle Pletka, AEI’s vice president for foreign and defense policy studies.
"Then again, the Protocols are freely available in Turkey all over the place, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised," Pletka said.
Rubin, who has long been at odds with Erdogan’s government, was cited in the Turkish reports as being the initiator of the coup.
Reached for comment Thursday, Rubin denied every having been in Turkey during the dates in question and dubbed the reports a "complete fabrication."
"On one hand I’m perversely honored," Rubin said. "On the other hand it shows the complete disrespect they [the government] have for the Turkish public and for the Turkish people’s love of freedom liberty and rule of law."
Rubin, who has been travelling to Turkey on and off since at least 2004, was sued by Erdogan in 2010 following the publication of a report alleging widespread financial corruption among Erdogan cronies.
Rubin said he was not surprised to see pro-Erdogan reporters implicate him in a Jewish conspiracy.
"If Erdogan really believes this I’m willing to come to Turkey anywhere anytime," Rubin said. "They can invite me and confront me with this nonsense evidence."
Kristol, who is a member of the Center for American Freedom’s board, also dismissed the accusations.
When asked if he was part of a Jewish plot to take down the Turkish government, Kristol sarcastically responded, "AEI and AIPAC are merely front organizations. The real moving force is PNAC," a now-defunct think tank that has served as a magnet for conspiracy theories.
The Turkish protests began three weeks ago after Erdogan’s government attempted to raze a popular park in the capital of Istanbul. The demonstrations quickly spread across the country, sparking a violent reaction from Erdogan’s police forces.
At least six Turkish protesters have been killed during the protests and nearly 8,000 injured, according to reports.
Pletka stated on AEI’s blog that it is absolutely ridiculous to blame the popular uprising on the doing of D.C. conservative and Jewish groups.
"I’m tickled to think that anyone believes we could rally the nation of Turkey against the increasingly autocratic, Islamist Erdogan government," Pletka wrote. "But as an honest human being, I have to admit this didn’t happen. No meeting. No plot. No Jewish cabal."
However, AEI has had relations with Erdogan in the past.
He spoke at a 2004 AEI forum on democracy and the spread of freedom.
While President Barack Obama has named Erdogan as one of his top five international friends, the protests have begun to test this relationship.
Turkey is rated only partly free by human rights groups and imprisons more journalists then any other nation.
AEI’s Pletka said Erdogan is hardly the democratic reformer that Western leaders like Obama regularly refer to him as.
"Here is the truth: Erdoğan … has begun to transform Turkey into an Islamist bastion," Pletka wrote on AEI’s website. "The Turkish people are standing up to Erdoğan because they see what has become of their once-proud nation, and they won’t stand for it. Kudos to them."