Erdogan attacks US impertinence on Syria

2014-11-26 21:54
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP)

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Istanbul - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday slammed US "impertinence" on the Syrian conflict, exposing the extent of strains between Washington and Ankara days after his key meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden.

Ties between the the US and Turkey have soured in recent months over the reluctance of Turkish leaders to intervene militarily in the US-led campaign against the Islamic State jihadists, who have taken control of swathes of Iraq and Syria.

In an indication of the tensions that remain between the two Nato allies, Erdogan accused the US of being "impertinent" for pressuring it to help save the besieged Syrian town of Kobane, which is within sight of the Turkish border.

"Why is somebody coming to this region from 12 000km away?" Erdogan said during an address to a group of businessmen in Ankara, in a clear reference to the US.

"I want you to know that we are against impertinence, recklessness and endless demands," he said.

Biden had personally stung Erdogan last month by suggesting his policies in supporting Islamist rebel forces in Syria had helped encourage the rise of the ISIS militant group, a slight that prompted Erdogan to warn his relationship with the US number two could be "history".

Washington is pressing Ankara for the use of the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey by US jets launching assaults on ISIS.

But Turkey has refused to bow to the pressure, setting several conditions for playing a greater role in the coalition.

"They looked on as the tyrant [President Bashar] Assad massacred 300 000 people. They remained silent in the face of Assad's barbarism and now they are now staging a 'conscience show' through Kobane," Erdogan said.

"We will resolve our problems not with the help of a 'superior mind' but with the help of our people," he said.

Biden wrapped up a three-day visit to Turkey on Sunday without a breakthrough on military cooperation in the Syrian crisis.

But Erdogan's comments contrasted with the relatively upbeat assessment of US officials that the meeting with Biden had brought closer the two sides' positions.

On Monday, Erdogan accused the West of coming to the region for "oil".

"I'm always meeting with them but it does not go any further than what I say. They don't have any sensitivities. They have only one sensitivity: oil, oil, oil..." he said.

So far, Turkey's sole contribution to the coalition has been allowing a contingent of Iraqi peshmerga Kurdish fighters to transit Turkish soil to fight ISIS militants for Kobane.

Read more on:    isis  |  recep tayyip erdogan  |  us  |  turkey

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