Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus has reportedly blamed the West, and specifically President Barack Obama, for the unprecedented crisis in Syria and the spread of terrorist groups to other countries in the Middle East.
“We will bring global forces trying to conduct disharmony in the Middle East into line. Western countries cannot escape from the dangers of terrorism or from the dangers of global migration even if they blocked their borders with wire braids or covered the sky with a steel dome,” declared the deputy PM.
Kurtulmus’s comments come after officials in Ankara threatened to deny the anti-Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) U.S.-led coalition access to its Incirlik Air Base over an alleged lack of allied support for Turkey’s own offensive in the Middle East.
Hurriyet Daily News reports that in a speech at an Ambassador’s’ Conference in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Tuesday, the deputy PM accused Western nations of “supporting terrorist organizations in order to maximize their regional interests just because they did not have troops on the ground.”
Specifically, the Turkish leader suggested that the West is allied with terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as well as the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
While both Turkey and the U.S. consider ISIS and the PKK to be terrorist groups, only Ankara has designated FETO, which refers to followers of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, a terror organization.
“Those [Western countries] who are talking about cooperation in the fight against terrorism should reflect on their history and remember how they once hosted bloody-handed dictators,” he said, naming the late dictators Muammar Gaddafi of Libya and Saddam Hussein of Iraq as examples.
Turkey considers the U.S.-allied People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) that controls large swathes of northern Syria, an affiliate of the terror PKK group. This position has driven both NATO allies, Washington and Ankara, to opposite sides of the Syrian conflict at times.
The Obama White House considers the PKK a terrorist group, but not the YPG.
Turkey has been backing the Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels, who have received military assistance from America in the past, but have been fighting against YPG on behalf of Turkey more recently.
Some news reports suggest that Turkey is growing closer to Russia as Ankara distances itself from Washington, despite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin’s different opinions on Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
Throughout the ongoing civil war, Turkey has been backing the Syrian opposition while Russia has been providing support to Assad.