Date posted: May 16, 2017
The exiled cleric accused by Turkey of orchestrating last year’s attempted coup charged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with seeking to silence critics, as the Turkish leader prepared to push for the preacher’s extradition in a White House meeting with Donald Trump.
Turkey’s long-standing extradition request for the former Erdogan ally and now foe, Fethullah Gulen, has complicated ties with the U.S., a relationship already strained by American support for Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State in Syria. The State Department has said U.S. courts must handle the extradition application.
In an opinion piece published by the Washington Post, Gulen said Erdogan was “doing everything he can to amass power and subjugate dissent.” Turkey has fired or suspended about 150,000 people, including thousands of police officers, for links to Gulen’s movement. The cleric has denied charges he plotted the failed military putsch in July.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu kept up the pressure over Gulen in an article in Foreign Policy magazine on Monday. “Gulen who was declared by his cult as the ‘Imam of the Universe,’ has attempted to destroy democracy in Turkey,” the minister wrote. “The people of Turkey expect the U.S. authorities to take effective legal measures against this threat to our security and democracy, as an ally should.”
Apart from the contentious issue of Gulen, Erdogan is expected to use his time with Trump in Washington to urge a rethink on Syria. Turkey considers the Kurdish YPG forces there to be a terrorist affiliate of the PKK that has been fighting for autonomy in southeast Turkey for more than three decades. He’s unlikely to be successful, though, as the Trump administration considers the Kurds as the only force capable of quickly capturing Islamic State’s self-declared capital of Raqqa.
“President Erdogan is sick and tired of being taken for a ride by Washington during the rule of the Obama administration and wants to walk out of the Oval Office with some clear answers and decisions that will be carried out,” Ilnur Cevik, a chief adviser to Erdogan, wrote in the Daily Sabah newspaper on Tuesday.
Source: Bloomberg , May 16, 2017