Mar 21 2018

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry hits out in angry 24 hours

Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been very busy this week, issuing in 24-hours one angry retort after another to the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations high commissioner for human rights.

The U.S. State Department on Monday expressed expressing concerns over the situation in the town of Afrin in northwest Syria, which Turkish troops and their Syrian Islamist allies captured from Syrian Kurdish forces on Sunday after a two-month offensive.

State Department drew attention to the displacement of the Kurdish population in Afrin and its effect on the humanitarian situation in Syria, raised concerns about reports of looting in the town, and called all actors to focus on the threat of Islamic State (ISIS).

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy’s in response accused U.S. authorities of not wanting to comprehend the reason, purpose and nature of Turkey’s military offense in Afrin, and refuted the allegations that Turkey had targeted civilians. 

He said the aim of the operation was to “rescue the civilian population from the oppression and tyranny of a terrorist organisation”, and said the State Department charge that the Turkish military intervention in Afrin would endanger the fight against ISIS was “completely groundless”.

UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, meanwhile, cited Turkey, alongside Iran and Israel, as countries posing challenges to Arab states. Aksoy said, “it is not possible to understand the statement of the UAE foreign minister claiming that Turkey intervenes in Syria and poses a threat for the Arab world. This statement is also far away from any good intention. In fact, it is very well known which sides the UAE officials are trying to serve through the statements of defamation against our history and relations with the Arab world for some time”.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid also denounced Turkey’s capture of Afrin and said that Egypt "considered the ongoing breach of Syrian sovereignty unacceptable". 

“For the fight against terrorism to be successful, it is necessary that all countries in the region and the international community adopt an unequivocal attitude and avoid making distinctions among terrorist organisations,” the Turkish ministry came back in response.

Aksoy issued another statement, this time responding to the ICRC, which called on Monday for greater access to the civilian population of Afrin. “The credibility of a Turkish Red Crescent working in Afrin with the Kurdish population is close to zero,” ICRC President Peter Maurer told reporters in Geneva. That statement, said Aksoy, was “far from truth and unacceptable”.

Then on Tuesday, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights published a report detailing extensive human rights violations in Turkey during the ongoing state of emergency, declared after the 2016 coup attempt. The UN text had “no meaning”, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said, as it ignored the threats against Turkey and the effects of the coup attempt. The high commissioner, the ministry said, “has lost his objectivity and impartiality on the issues concerning Turkey”.