Turkey’s President Erdoğan Slams US Reaction to Failed Coup
Turkey’s president slammed the United States on Friday, claiming it was not standing firmly against a failed military coup and accused it of harboring the plot’s alleged mastermind, as a government crackdown in the coup’s aftermath strained Turkey’s ties with key allies.
Turkey has demanded the United States extradite Fethullah Gülen, a cleric living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania whom it accuses of being behind the violent July 15 coup attempt that left 290 people dead. It is accusing Western nations of not extending sufficient support to its efforts to counter further threats from followers of the Gülen movement, which it says have infiltrated the country’s state institutions.Turkey considers Gülen’s movement a terrorist organization. Gülen has denied any prior knowledge of the plot and says his movement espouses interfaith dialogue. The United States has asked Turkey for evidence of his involvement, and said the U.S. extradition process must take its course.
“Instead of thanking this nation that quashed the coup in the name of democracy, on the contrary, you are taking sides with the coup plotters,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in an angry speech Friday at a police special forces headquarters in Ankara. The facility was bombed and fired upon during the attempted coup, and 47 police officers were killed.“The putschist is already in your country,” Erdoğan said.
The president also lashed out at an American military official who expressed concern that the failed coup may have longer-term effects on the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.
Gen. Joseph Votel said Thursday the unrest could affect U.S. relations with the Turkish military, noting that some of its leaders have been jailed.
“We’ve certainly had relationships with a lot of Turkish leaders, military leaders in particular. And so I’m concerned about what the impact is on those relationships as we continue to move forward,” Votel said at the Aspen Security Forum.“It’s not up to you to make that decision. Who are you? Know your place,” he said, and hinted the United States could be behind the failed plot.
“My people know who is behind this scheme … they know who the superior intelligence behind it is, and with these statements you are revealing yourselves, you are giving yourselves away,” he said.
Becatoros reported from Istanbul. Lolita Baldor in Washington DC, Geir Moulson in Berlin and Cinar Kiper in Istanbul contributed.