Turkish Foreign Ministry claims US terror report “intentionally distorts” facts
The US State Department released their 2021 Country Reports on Terrorism earlier this week. The reports, which generally provide insight on counterterrorism efforts and help guide US policy and programs, put Turkey at odds with the US once more as Turkish officials objected to claims in the Turkey Report.
The Turkey Report states, “The nation also views the Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S. partner in the counter-ISIS campaign, as a branch of the PKK terrorist group, and this remained a significant point of friction with the United States.”
Spokesperson for the Turkish Foreign Ministry Tanju Bilgic condemned these statements as an “intentional distortion” of Turkey’s fight against “terrorist organizations that pose a direct threat to security.”
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry sees no distinction between the SDF and the PKK and criticizes that the US positions the group as an ally in the region, to which it provides arms and other assistance. “The mention in the report of the so-called ‘SDF,’ an extension of the PKK terrorist organization, as the U.S.’ partner in the fight against DAESH, reveals that the US authorities still have not realized the error of using one terrorist organization in the fight against another terrorist organization,” said spokesperson Bilgic.
According to the Daily Sabah, the SDF are responsible not only for attacks that have “taken tens of thousands of lives” in Turkey, but also in northern Iraq and northern Syria. The Daily Sabah reports that US aid to the organization has enabled its growth and is contradiction with “Washington’s promises to Türkiye that it would ‘consult and work closely’ with Ankara against Daesh and the PKK.”
Bilgic described US claims that Turkey has caused “loss of civilian life” in Syria and Iraq as “a separate oddity based on biased news reports.”
A second point of contention concerns the conflicting views on “FETO.” While the US report does not designate the group as a terror organization and calls it “the Gulen movement,” this is directly at odds with Turkey’s label of “Fethullah Terrorist Organization.”
Turkey holds the organization responsible for the 2016 coup attempt, a claim disputed by the 2021 Country Report which further highlights the politically motivated arrests on the basis of affiliation with the group. The report states, “Türkiye continues to detain and arrest Turkish citizens — including locally employed staff at the U.S. Mission to Türkiye — and foreign citizens residing in Türkiye for alleged Gulen or terrorism-related links, often based on scant evidence and minimal due process. The Government of Türkiye also continued to dismiss military, security, and civil servants from public office in 2021.”
On this matter, Bilgic rebuked the State Department’s assessment and emphasized that Turkey’s efforts are in line with the law. Bilgic said, “The terrorist designation of FETÖ, which is the perpetrator of the 2016 bloody coup attempt in Türkiye and known to be involved in criminal activity in every country it’s present in, including the U.S., has been proven through Turkish judicial rulings based on concrete evidence. Therefore, the description of our fight against FETÖ members as being ‘politically motivated’ is unacceptable.”
Bilgic asked the US “to immediately end FETÖ's presence and activities on its soil,” and called into question the soundness of the Country Reports, saying, “The inclusion of allegations based on hearsay and biased news media raises suspicions about the seriousness of the report.”