Aug 5, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
(NY DAILY NEWS) Barack Obama’s publicity team were thrown a curve ball this week when a photo of the president holding a baseball bat intended to promote friendship with an important ally did just the opposite.
Speaking with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Monday about the escalating crisis in Syria, Obama was photographed holding a baseball bat signed by legendary player Hank Aaron.
In the shot, the president looks relaxed and contemplative. But some Turkish leaders didn’t seem to think so.
“The photo reveals from whom our Prime Minister receives orders to rule the country,” Metin Lutfi Baydar, an opposition politician for Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) party, said in a statement.
Another CHP leader, party vice president Umut Oran, called the picture “an implicit insult to Turkey and its citizens” in Parliament, Reuters reports.
It’s exactly the opposite message the Obama team was hoping to convey.
“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,” Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the White House, wrote in a statement released Friday.
“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 wrote.
The relationship between Turkey and the United States could prove crucial in the search for a solution to the Syrian crisis, which was dealt a significant blow this week when former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan resigned from his post as special peace envoy from the UN to Syria.
The UN Security Council has been gridlocked for months over a solution to the bloody crisis, with China and Russia largely opposed to intervening in the conflict, a protracted confrontation between government loyalists to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels pushing for greater civil liberties in the majority Sunni state.