May 14 2018

U.S. policies spreading world war atmosphere, says Erdoğan

The world has been living through “dark times reminiscent of the years leading up to the second world war” due to the U.S. foreign policy, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told the Chatham House think tank on the second day of his UK visit.

The Turkish president strongly criticised the United States on the day its new embassy officially opened in Jerusalem, also lambasting its recent actions in Syria and Iran, the Guardian reported on Monday.

Erdoğan has been one of the most vocal critics of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus recognising the city as Israel’s capital.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Trump’s plan “the slap of the century” to Palestinians, who contest Israel’s right to the whole city and wish to found an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The Turkish president condemned Trump’s decision last December when it was announced, calling for an Extraordinary Session of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC)’s Islamic Summit Conference in Istanbul that month.

The summit released a statement agreed by the 57 member-states present which rejected and condemned “in the strongest terms the unilateral decision by the President of the United States America recognizing Al-Quds as the so-called capital of Israel, the occupying Power.”

Erdoğan found a prime stage from which to repeat the condemnation at Chatham House in London, where he said the decision to move the embassy was against international law and United Nations decisions.

“America has chosen to be part of the problem and not the solution so they have lost their role as international mediator. We cannot stop feeling like being in dark days of pre-world war two,” the Guardian newspaper quoted Erdoğan as saying.

The president’s words were echoed by the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement on Monday reiterating Turkey’s view of the embassy move as legally illegitimate and stressing that it “would not serve regional peace, security and stability.”

Turkish citizens and opposition politicians also took the streets and podiums to express their anger after dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces while protesting the embassy move in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Erdoğan’s broadside at the United States also extended to Trump’s stance on Iran, after the U.S. president declared that his country would withdraw from a deal lifting U.S. sanctions on Iran in exchange for tight controls on its nuclear programme signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

The Iranian decision was “part of a pattern of selfish unilateral decisions being taken by the US administration,” the Guardian quoted him as saying.

The comment reflects months of worsening relations between the two NATO allies that have brought up the possibility of military confrontation in northern Syria, where the United States continues to support the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a predominantly Kurdish group that Turkey launched a military operation against in January.