Erdogan blasts US for ties to exiled cleric Gulen, support for Kurds
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the United States of failing to live up to its obligations on two issues of vital importance to Turkey by backing Kurdish fighters it considers terrorists and harbouring an ageing cleric it accuses of fomenting a failed coup.
By giving military support to Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State across Turkey’s border in Syria, America is “doing wrong before the eyes of the world”, Erdogan said on Thursday in an interview in New York. An international coalition should do that job without relying on the Kurds, he argued.
“By giving them weapons, you’re endangering our future.’’
Erdogan also dismissed US arguments that an extradition request for Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher living in rural Pennsylvania, must first work its way through the judicial system.
The Department of Justice is reviewing Turkey’s evidence of Gulen’s alleged involvement in the failed July coup. United States officials say a decision on Gulen, who has rejected the accusations against him, may need months of consideration.
“I’m sorry, I can’t wait for the verdict to be issued by a court because this offence has not been committed in the US – it has been committed in Turkey,” said Erdogan, who was once allied with Gulen.
“We want our political partner to be a trustworthy partner. We want our political partner to rise to the occasion and meet our expectations,” he said of the US.
Erdogan’s remarks underscored the growing strain between the two Nato allies. The Turkish leader’s vast purge of his country’s military, judiciary, educational and business sectors in the wake of the coup has raised concerns among human rights groups and some governments that he is going too far.
Yet in the fight against Islamic State the US also depends greatly on Turkey, which allows America to use its Incirlik air base.