AKP lawmakers pen letter to Trump calling for Gülen’s extradition, halt of support to YPG
Lawmakers from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have written a letter to United States President Donald Trump, reminding him of the Turkish demand to extradite Ankara’s number one enemy and to halt support to Kurdish groups in Syria’s north.
The letter, signed by 303 MPs, was handed over to an official of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara on May 17.
The letter to Trump addressed two main issues between the countries: Turkey’s demand for the extradition of the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen and the demand that the U.S. halt its support to the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.
Ankara accuses Gülen of having masterminded the deadly coup attempt of July 15, 2016 during which 250 Turkish nationals died and 2,200 others were wounded.
The Turkish administration also views the YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is also viewed as a terrorist organization by the U.S.
The AKP parliamentary group’s deputy chair Mustafa Elitaş and the Turkish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee head Volkan Bozkır, handed over the letter to Jeffrey Hulse, head of the U.S. Embassy’s Foreign Political Developments section, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
The letter, prepared under the initiative of Bozkır, was written in response to an earlier one by the U.S. Congress sent to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the agency’s report read.
On April 20, a total of 66 American senators sent a letter to Erdoğan that criticized the detention and trial process of American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who is facing terror charges in Turkey. Some 154 members of the U.S. House of Representatives had also signed a letter within a similar context on May 4, which also addressed Erdoğan.
Turkey-U.S. relations were going through a delicate and fragile process due to developments in the region, Elitaş said, speaking to reporters.
“This process should be carried out with diligence, care and attention,” he added.
On Feb. 6, Erdoğan repeated his demand for U.S. forces to pull back from the Manbij province of Syria, and said the U.S. was setting itself up against Turkey, Iran and possibly Russia by arming the YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in a large part of northern Syria, which borders Turkey.