President Obama struck out with Turkey this week after the White House released a photo showing the leader of the free world holding a baseball bat while talking on the phone with the Turkish prime minister.
The two leaders spoke on Monday to discuss the crisis in Syria, after which the unusual image of Obama seated at his desk, having a phone conversation with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan while holding a bat autographed by baseball great Hank Aaron, was released by the White House.
When asked about possible hidden meanings in the photo, White House secretary Jay Carney said that the president was an avid baseball fan and long-time supporter of the Chicago White Sox.
The picture, which was interpreted as vaguely menacing by some critics, caused a stir in Turkey.
‘The photo reveals from whom our Prime Minister receives orders to rule the country,’ Metin Lutfi Baydar, a lawmaker with Turkey’s main opposition party the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said in a statement.
CHP vice president Umut Oran asked through parliament if Erdogan had seen the picture and if he would take action against ‘an implicit insult to Turkey and its citizens.’
Some newspapers took a more light-hearted approach to the diplomatic snafu, with columnist Ahmet Hakan of Hurriyet writing: ‘We need to do something – retaliation seems to be the most reasonable method.’
‘Our prime minister needs to hold something in his hand as he’s calling Obama,’ he added, suggesting as possible candidates a slipper, a belt or a rolling pin.
White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a brief written statement on Friday that her department had seen the commentary and speculation about the photo in the Turkish media.
‘We released the photo with only one purpose in mind, to highlight the President’s continuing close relationship with Prime Minister Erdogan and draw attention to the important conversation they had about the worsening situation in Syria,’ she said.
‘The President values his friendship and close partnership with Prime Minister Erdogan on a range of important issues on which the United States cooperates with Turkey,’ she added.
Tensions between Turkey and Syria have escalated after the Syrians downed a Turkish plane earlier this summer.
U.S. and Turkey have enjoyed a unique, if unlikely relationship, which has developed and grown closer over the past few years as the leaders of the two nations worked together on resolving crises in Egypt, Libya and Syria.
Source: The Daily Mail