Islamist Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday to either impose global nuclear disarmament or establish laws that allow any nation to develop nuclear weapons, as the status quo breeds “inequality.”
Erdogan repeated his anti-Security Council mantra, “the world is bigger than five,” a reference to the five permanent members of the Security Council: China, Russia, America, France, and the U.K., all of which are nuclear powers.
He also boasted of Turkey’s repeated violations of Syrian and Iraqi sovereignty in attempts to bomb Kurdish targets in both areas. Turkey shares a border with Syria and routinely sends fighter jets into Syrian airspace, much to the chagrin of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Erdogan’s troops target Syrian Kurdish troops allied with America, however, not Assad’s forces or Shiite terrorist groups like Hezbollah.
The Turkish president has never explicitly said he wants Turkey to become a nuclear-armed nation, but this month decried as unfair the fact that Turkey signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and thus cannot possess nuclear weapons legally.
Erdogan opened his speech Tuesday with a warning that “the international community is gradually losing its ability to find lasting solutions to challenges such as terrorism, hunger, misery, and climate change.”
“It is unacceptable to see that one part of the world lives in luxury and enjoys the benefit of prosperity, while people in other parts of the world suffer in the hands of poverty, misery, and illiteracy,” he continued, outraged that some countries were discussing “robotics” and advanced technology in the face of extreme underdevelopment around the world.
“It is obvious that today, neither the rights nor the responsibilities are shared appropriately,” he proclaimed.
“We cannot leave the fate of humanity up to the discretion of a handful of countries … the world is greater than five. It is high time that we change our current mentality, our institutions, our organizations, and our rules,” Erdogan declared.
He brought up the existence of legal nuclear powers as an example.
“The inequality between nuclear states and nonnuclear states is enough to undermine global balances. It bothers us, like anyone else, that weapons of mass destruction are used as leverage in every crisis, instead of their total elimination,” Erdogan said. “Nuclear power should either be forbidden for all or permissible for everyone.”
Erdogan also took the majority of credit for the elimination of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, omitting the extensive work that the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ) did to eradicate ISIS jihadis from Raqqa, the former capital of the group’s “caliphate,” with the aid of the American military. Erdogan’s government considers the YPG a terrorist organization and has pressured Washington to abandon its most effective ally on the ground against ISIS.
At the U.N., Erdogan called for the “elimination of the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK and YPG terrorist organizations.” The PKK are a U.S.-designated Marxist terrorist group active largely in Iraq against the Islamic State. Yazidi witnesses in Sinjar – a northern Iraqi Kurdish region that ISIS overran – have credited the PKK with a significant role in defeating ISIS there, as well as staying to help the Yazidis rebuild and defend themselves. The PKK do not have friendly relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (KRG), but do reportedly maintain ties with the YPG.
“We will not be able to find a permanent solution to the Syrian conflict if we fail to handle all terrorist organizations with the same perspective,” Erdogan said, urging the United States to treat the YPG like the Islamic State despite its key efforts in defeating the latter.
Erdogan also celebrated the millions of Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.
“Turkey today is the most generous country in terms of humanitarian aid given the radio of humanitarian assistance to GDP,” he said. “We are currently hosting five million refugees. In other words, there are more asylum seekers in Turkey than the total population of 29 states in the United States.”
Among other topics Erdogan touched upon in his extensive speech, the Turkish leader praised late Muslim Brotherhood member and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi; condemned Israel for alleged oppression of Palestinians; demanded Turkish control of Cyprus; and shared a photo of the late Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian refugee child who drowned attempting to reach Europe, in an attempt to galvanize the world to do more to support Syrian war refugees.