Todays Zaman: Erdoğan slams New York Times for ISIL story

Erdoğan slams New York Times for ISIL story

Erdoğan slams New York Times for ISIL story

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu leave Hacı Bayram Veli Mosque in Hacıbayram neighhborhood of Ankara after Friday prayers on Aug. 22. (Photo: Today’s Zaman, Mevlüt Karabulut)

September 17, 2014, Wednesday/ 13:17:52/ TODAYSZAMAN.COM / ISTANBUL

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lashed out at The New York Times on Wednesday over a report saying the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been steadily attracting Turkish recruits, calling the report “shameless.”

The New York Times ran the story on Monday with a photo of Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu leaving a mosque in the Ankara neighborhood of Hacı Bayram, which the report said has become a recruitment hub for ISIL.

“A media organization in the US accuses us of supporting terror organizations by posting a photo of me and Davutoğlu,” Erdoğan told a gathering of the Chamber of Turkish Tradesmen and Craftsmen’s (TESK). “This is, in the clearest of terms, shameless, ignoble and base.”

The New York Times report focused on Hacı Bayram, where it said about 100 people have joined the ranks of ISIL, indicating that its locals tried to approach Erdoğan and Davutoğlu to raise the issue of ISIL recruitment when the two went to the historic Hacı Bayram Veli Mosque in the neighborhood.

The report said as many as 1,000 Turks have joined the ranks of the extremist group, citing local media reports and Turkish officials.

Erdoğan had just on Tuesday targeted The New York Times for a separate report it published on Saturday that said the US cannot convince Turkey to stop the flow of ISIL oil, a major source of revenue for the extremist group.

“This newspaper [The New York Times] … is very skilled at fabricating false reports. I also told [US Secretary of State John] Kerry that the US media made up false reports. These [reports] aim not to show Turkey’s real face but to harm Turkey-US ties and Turkey’s relations with other countries. These are not true. These methods are evil-minded,” he said of the Saturday report.

On Wednesday, Erdoğan again denied allegations of oil trade with ISIL. “They say Turkey buys oil [from ISIL] and they [ISIL militants] are treated in Turkey. Such things are out of the question,” Erdoğan said.

Turkey, one of the most vocal opponents of the Syrian regime, has been accused of helping the expansion of ISIL by turning a blind eye to the passage of foreign fighters transiting its territory to join ISIL in Syria in order to tip the military balance against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Ankara vehemently denies allegations and says Western countries where ISIS recruits come from should cooperate more closely with Turkey to stem flow of foreign fighters.

Ankara is also reluctant to publicly confront ISIL because of concerns over the fate of 49 Turks who were seized by the group in June in Mosul, Iraq.

“For us, the 49 people who are held in Mosul are more important than anything. We have responsibilities; we have to be careful in our statements,” Erdoğan said, underlining the Turkish concern for the hostages.

Erdoğan also stated that what he called the “perception operation” to create a negative image of Turkey will be taken to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“Turkey is a great country that cannot drop to its knees before such false reports. For us, the 49 people [46 Turkish nationals and three others] who are held in Mosul are more important than anything. We have responsibilities; we have to be careful in our statements. I regret to state that some treasonous networks that don’t have this sensitivity carry water to the mill of the others [ISIL militants]… We will tell world leaders about this ugly perception operation during the UN General Assembly on Monday,” he said.

Turkey claims that its hands are tied due to the 46 Turkish nationals who were kidnapped by ISIL from the Turkish Consulate General in Mosul over three months ago. Turkish officials have imposed a gag order on Turkish media coverage of the hostage issue, claiming that they do not want news stories to put the hostages’ lives at risk.

Turkey also refused to sign an anti-ISIL communiqué at a counterterrorism meeting in Jeddah last week. A senior Turkish official said Ankara had refrained from signing the communiqué in part due to the sensitivity of efforts to free the 46 Turkish hostages captured by ISIL fighters in Iraq. However, pro-government elements of the Turkish media have run articles expressing broader skepticism about Obama’s plans.

Explore posts in the same categories: Iran / Israel War, Iraq war, Islamic State, Syria war, Turkey

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