Dec 13 2017

Erdoğan government slams McMaster accusations

Turkey said it was astonished by accusations made by HR McMaster, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, that the mainly-Muslim country is a new sponsor of radical Islamist ideology.

The government is fully committed to fighting extremism in all its forms, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The allegations made by Mr. McMaster, who is best placed to judge Turkey's ceaseless combat against terrorism and radicalism in all its forms and manifestations, are astonishing, baseless and unacceptable,” the ministry in Ankara said.

Relations between Turkey and the the United States have soured in recent months, leading the U.S. government to restrict visa services from its diplomatic missions in the country. Washington and the European Union have been increasingly critical of Turkey’s record on human rights and democracy, while Ankara has slammed the United States for its support of Kurdish militants in Syria.

In a speech in Washington on Tuesday, McMaster said the United States “didn’t pay enough attention to how it is [radical Islamist ideology] being advanced through charities, madrassas and other social organisations."

While McMaster referred to Saudi Arabia's support for some of these organisations decades ago, he singled out Turkey and Qatar as the main supporters at present. He also claimed Turkey's growing problems with the West were largely a result of the rise of the Justice and Development Party, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan leads.

Turkey has poured billions of dollars in financial aid into foreign countries, particularly Palestine, Syria, Africa and southeast Europe, through organizations and NGOs such as the state-run Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA). Projects are focused on “those countries with which we have a shared culture and geography,” TIKA President Serdar Cam said on the organization’s website.

Together with Qatar, Turkey also supports several rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad, some of which advocate Sharia law. It has also been highly critical of Israeli treatment of Palestinians, saying it amounts to terrorism, and Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. 

The foreign ministry also reiterated its opposition to U.S. support for Kurdish militants.

“We expect the United States, which we continue to recognize as our friend and ally, to display the same stance to our country, to cease all forms of cooperation with terrorist groups such as YPG and provide more concrete and effective support in our ongoing determined fight against terrorism and radicalism,” it said.