State Dept Spokesman refers to Turkey as ‘Close NATO Ally’ while dismissing claims U.S. Supports Fethullah Gulen

The dynamic that exists between Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who resides in Pennsylvania’s Poconos  is enigmatic. Reports that the two men have become bitter adversaries have increased as well. In the wake of Erdogan’s sweeping electoral victories on March 30th, which predicted accurately, there are news reports surfacing from Turkish sources that question whether the Barack Obama administration is siding with Gulen in latter’s supposed struggle with Erdogan over the future of Turkey and that Erdogan wants Gulen extradited.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen.

At the U.S. State Department’s daily press briefing, a reporter prefaced a question to spokesman Marie Harf by making reference to Erdogan’s victory speech, during which the Prime Minister ‘mentioned Pennsylvania several times’ (where Gulen lives). This was followed by a question about the validity of claims by Erdogan that the U.S. is siding with Gulen against Erdogan’s AKP Party.

According to a Turkish newspaper, Harf said that the extradition of Gulen is ‘out of the question’. Though the transcript from the March 31st daily press briefing doesn’t confirm that, the issue of Gulen’s alleged alignment with the U.S. against Erdogan did come up. The contents of a 2009 cable posted by Wikileaks and penned by a U.S. Ambassador reported that ‘Erdogan is so firmly outside the Gulen camp that Gulen loyalists view him as a liability’.

If that was true then, it’s likely even more so today.

Harf responded to the question about any U.S. support for Gulen over Erdogan by dismissing the claim and referring to Turkey as a ‘close NATO ally’.



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