(photo credit: Associated Press)
WASHINGTON – Turkey is denying that the US warned it that it might lose out on
arms deals because of its stance toward Israel and Iran.
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“No country can
issue warnings against Turkey. No one, particularly, can talk to the prime
minister in such a tone,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying
in the Instanbul-based Today’s Zaman.
Davutoglu was responding to a story
in the Financial Times
on Sunday in which an anonymous Obama administration
official reported that US President Barack Obama personally informed Turkish
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the country might have trouble getting
congressional approval for military sales given its harsh criticism of Israel
and vote against UN sanctions on Iran.
The White House also denied that
any “ultimatum” was delivered to Turkey.
But members of Congress, who can
block arms sales, have indicated their displeasure over Turkey’s recent stances.
Regardless of the administration’s posture, that could cause problems in
Ankara’s ability to acquire American drones for use against the Kurdish PKK in
northern Iraq, once US combat troops withdraw.
Eliot Engel (D-New York)
took particular umbrage at the notion that the US would provide Turkey with the
tools to go after a group it considers a terrorist organization outside its
borders while harshly criticizing Israel’s efforts to enforce a blockade of Gaza
lest weapons reach the Hamas government in control of the coastal
He called the stance “totally hypocritical” in a recent
conversation with The Jerusalem Post.
“They cannot have it both ways,” he
said. “They cannot be unhelpful when it affects our most important ally in the
region, Israel, and when it affects us, the United States. It can’t act
negatively in that regard and then think it’s business as usual for their
Nine Turkish citizens were killed by IDF forces on a flotilla
trying to break the Gaza blockade in May, setting off severe tensions between
the two countries.
The US has tried to tamp down the rhetoric between the
two sides, and has emphasized its constructive relationship with Ankara despite
differing with its response to the flotilla incident as well as its stance on
“The United States has a deep and strong relationship with Turkey,
which is an important NATO ally,” White House National Security Council
spokesman Mike Hammer told the Post
following the Financial Times
“The president has established a productive dialogue with Prime
Minister Erdogan since their first meeting in April 2009 in
Davutoglu in Today’s Zaman also described Obama’s most recent
encounter with Erdogan, which took place in Toronto during a meeting of
representatives the G-20 major economies, as a “friendly” one.
“It was a
conversation between leaders of perfectly equal countries. Thus, there was no
warning and these claims are completely unfounded,” he said.