Turkey, reacting angrily to U.S. claims of anti-Semitism directed at President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accused Washington once again of ordering a military coup in July 2016.
The United States is also harboring the person who orchestrated the failed coup, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in an interview with state-run TRT television, in an apparent reference to Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania.
“Today, those who attack our president as anti-Semitic keep the perpetrator of July 15 in their own country,” he said. “it was on their (U.S.) orders. We all know that.”
Turkey has reacted scathingly to comments on Monday by U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price, who accused Erdogan and other Turkish leaders of stoking a week-long conflict between Israel and the Hamas militant group in Gaza.
“We take seriously the violence that often accompanies anti-Semitism and the dangerous lies that undergird it,” Price said. “We must always counter lies with facts and answer crimes of hate with justice.”
Turkey has periodically accused the United States of playing a role in the failed coup and has lambasted it for failing to hand over Gülen, who it blames for the putsch. Washington says Turkey has not provided sufficient evidence to allow for Gulen’s extradition.
The preacher, who denies the charges, has led a vast clandestine Islamic network that infiltrated Turkish state institutions including the police and judiciary. Turkey’s police have arrested thousands of his alleged followers and others have fled Turkey.
Soylu said the state of U.S.-Turkish relations meant he had refused a request by the U.S. ambassador for an appointment.
“I did not (accept) and I will not, unless they start to respect this country,” he said.
Erdogan has been among the harshest critics of an Israeli police raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest site, and its air bombardment of Gaza Strip over the past week.
The Turkish president has labelled Israel “a cruel terrorist state”, urging the Muslim world and international community to take rapid action to stop “Israel’s aggression in Palestine”.
“They are murderers, to the point that they kill children who are five or six years old. They only are satisfied by sucking their blood,” Erdogan said.
Israel says it began the military operation because Hamas started firing rockets into Israeli territory, killing and injuring civilians and spreading terror.
On Monday, Erdogan also condemned U.S. President Joe Biden for his approval of weapons sales to Israel. “You (Biden) are writing history with your bloody hands,” he said.
Relations between NATO members Turkey and the United States are at an historic low point due to differences over policy on Russia, Syria, Libya and the eastern Mediterranean. Washington has imposed sanctions on the Turkish defense industry after Turkey bought Russian air defense missiles in 2019 and excluded it from a programme to develop and purchase the F-35 stealth fighter jet. It has threatened further reprisals.
Soylu also levied criticism at U.S. policy think tank the Rand Corporation for criticizing the attachment of the Turkish gendarmerie to the Interior Ministry in a report last year.
“Without the gendarmerie, you cannot carry out a coup,” Soylu said.
Soylu also accused the United Arab Emirates of being behind the failed putsch and referred to a wanted Turkish Mafia leader who is reportedly in Dubai. Sedat Peker, who has fled the country, published a series of videos this month accusing Turkish officials of links to organized crime.
“Don’t you see that these speeches have been ordered to wear down the Turkish government with lies and slander,” Soylu said.
Peker has implicated senior members of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in criminal cover-ups and corruption in his YouTube videos, each of which has garnered millions of views.
In one of the videos, Peker said Soylu had helped him evade arrest. Soylu is running scared as Mafia don Peker’s YouTube videos unearthing crime and corruption amidst AKP ranks directly target him.
Turkey is going through the longest period of economic stagnation in President Erdogan’s 20 year old reign, which has led to large segments of the conservative constituency abandoning the party, according to recent polls. Erdogan and Soylu are sticking to the tried-and-tested formula of inventing foreign enemies to change the agenda, which in this case happens to be US and Israel.
Additionally, Erdogan hopes to antagonize Biden to engage him in a direct dialogue to sort out the S-400 dispute and reduce US aid to pro-PKK Kurds in North East Syria.
His strategy seem to resolve around proving to Biden that he is too dangerous to mess with, which is very likely to backfire, because Turkey’s economy is very fragile, while he no longer enjoys the support of a majority of voters.
The attacks on US and Israel gain the administration few new votes, while reinforcing the view abroad that it is a group of unprincipled scoundrels capable of doing anything to save the day.
Source Ahval, commentary by PA Turkey
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