Erdogan: US is 'sheltering a terrorist'

Erdogan: US is 'sheltering a terrorist'
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launches a fresh tirade against the US amid a dip in relations between Ankara and Washington.
2 min read
13 October, 2017
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed US support of Kurdish rebels in Syria [Getty]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a scathing tirade against the United States on Thursday, blasting Washington over its support for Kurdish rebels in Syria and for"sheltering a terrorist".

The president, whose remarks referred to the US' refusal to extradite Erdogan rival Fethullah Gulen for his alleged role in a coup attempt, also took aim at American diplomats in Turkey.

"What a shame if the great United States of America is being governed by an ambassador in Ankara," Erdogan said, referring to US envoy John Bass, who Turkey recently announced it would be boycotting.

"Because this is the position they are holding. They should have said, 'You cannot treat my strategic ally this way, you cannot act this way.' But they couldn't say this," he added.

The Turkish president's words appeared to cast aside hopes that the ongoing dispute between Turkey and the US would be swiftly resolved.

The NATO allies clashed last week, when Turkey arrested US consulate staff member Metin Topuz on suspicion of espionage.

Following Topuz's arest, both states froze visa services in each other's countries.

Erdogan also took shot at Washington's support for Kurdish YPG rebels in Syria, who are viewed by Ankara as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The PKK is a proscribed terrorist organisation in Turkey and have engaged in open clashes with Turkish security forces.

The Turkish leader accused the US of supplying "weapons for free to a terror organisation" and claimed that the YPG had received 3,500 trucks of US weapons in Syria.

According to Erdogan, these weapons are being used by the YPG to "encircle us from the south."

Ankara has long been opposed to US support of the YPG, who are seen by the US as a key force opposing the Islamic State group in Syria.

Turkey, meanwhile, has backed other Syrian rebel groups and is worried that Kurdish separatists may make gains near the Turkey-Syrian border.

US State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert dismissed Erdogan's accusations and challenged Ankara to produce evidence of its claims against US embassy staff.
Nauert said that Washington has "some very real concerns" about the handling of Topuz's arrest and suggested that the move may have been an attempt to undermine US-Turkey law enforcement cooperation.

"We hope Turkey is not trying to create distance between us and them on that," she said.