Ruling coalition leader says Turkey won’t break in anti-U.S. tirade

Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) junior wing of the coalition ruling Turkey, went on an anti-U.S. tirade on Wednesday, accusing the United States of trying to undermine his country as the Turkish and U.S. presidents prepared to meet.

The MHP leader compared Turkey to Bolivia, accusing the United States of ousting Bolivian President Evo Morales this week, but saying this would not work against Turkey.

“Those who failed to turn Turkey into a new Syria or Iraq had best remember that if they try what they did in Bolivia on Turkey, the price will be very steep,” Bahçeli said.

The far-right leader went on to rehash popular conspiracy theories that claim Turkey is battling against a secretive global conspiracy working against its interests.

“The United States has tried virtually every means in its power to stop Operation Peace Spring and put out our struggle against terrorism,” Bahçeli said.

He was referring to the military operation Turkey launched on Oct. 9 against Kurdish-led groups in Syria that Ankara views as a threat due to their links to Kurdish insurgents in Turkey.

Those groups were important partners in the U.S.-backed coalition against Islamic State, and U.S. lawmakers have almost unanimously opposed Turkey’s operation. But U.S. President Donald Trump, whom Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is meeting in Washington, effectively greenlighted the offensive by agreeing to withdraw troops from Kurdish-controlled border areas.

Bahçeli said criticism of what he called an historic meeting was unfair and based on prejudice, likely referring to opposition calls for Erdoğan to cancel the visit.

The MHP leader said that Turkey’s enemies had created a range of outlawed groups, from Islamic State, to Kurdish militants, to the religious movement blamed for a coup attempt in 2016, and used them against Turkey.

Morales stepped down on Nov. 10 under pressure from mass public protests, political groups and the Bolivian military.

The Bolivian former president won elections on Oct. 20, but the vote was marred by allegations of fraud. Morales ran for a fourth term, despite the Bolivian constitution allowing presidents to serve only two terms. He lost a constitutional referendum to extend his legal term limit in 2016, but ran again this year after a court ruled that the limit infringed on his political rights.