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POLITICS > Turkey fights al-Qaeda like it fights the PKK: PM Erdoğan

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Al-Qaeda is as bad as the PKK, PM Erdoğan states, dismissing claims that Turkey is aiding and abetting jihadists in the fight against Syria’s government

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt address a press conference at the Rosenbad government house in Stockholm, Sweden on Nov 7. Erdogan is in Sweden for a one day official visit. AFP PHOTO / TT NEWS AGENCY

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt address a press conference at the Rosenbad government house in Stockholm, Sweden on Nov 7. Erdogan is in Sweden for a one day official visit. AFP PHOTO / TT NEWS AGENCY

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has flatly denied claims that Turkey has become a transit area for jihadist groups bound for Syria, saying al-Qaeda-linked groups are subjected to the same fight Ankara carries out against militant organizations, in an apparent reference to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“It is out of question that organizations like al-Qaeda or al-Nusra could take shelter in our country. This is slander and [a pack of] lies,” Erdoğan said, responding to a journalist’s questions in the joint press conference with Swedish counterpart Fredrik Reinfeldt after being asked for the prime minister’s explanation over the usage of Turkey as a transit area by the aforementioned groups. The prime minister was in Stockholm for an official visit to the Nordic country.

Erdoğan denied the existence of jihadist groups in Turkey, demanding that the journalist clarify and prove his claim.

“We have waged and we would wage the same fight against all separatist terrorist groups if there were such groups [on Turkish soil],” he said.

Turkey has long championed more robust backing for Syria’s armed opposition, but the rise of al-Qaeda-linked groups among their ranks has left it open to accusations that it is lending support to radical Islamists.

“None of the al-Qaeda-related groups in Syria has any relation with Turkey,” Erdoğan said, underlining that among the Syrian opposition groups, Turkey only recognizes the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Syrian National Coalition (SNC).

Al-Qaeda-linked groups such as the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have captured territory in parts of northern Syria near the border in recent months, raising alarm among the opposition’s Western backers. The U.S. has designated the al-Nusra Front as a foreign terrorist organization, saying it was trying to hijack the uprising on behalf of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The prime minister also said Turkey supported a planned internationally backed peace conference on Syria but blamed Russia, one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s key allies, for the failure this week to agree on a date for the talks.

The United States and Russia failed at a meeting chaired by U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Nov. 5 to agree to a date for the Geneva II conference. “The process was again postponed. Why? Because [Moscow] is telling the opposition to accept a transitional government with al-Assad’s involvement,” Erdoğan said. “Come and sit at the table, and leave behind all the pre-conditions.”

November/07/2013

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Brit in Turkey

11/8/2013 7:13:25 PM

Agnes: Well spotted about the Swedish PM's expression. It has the look of "are you sure?" mixed with a little "I'm sure he's lying".

Jim Phipps

11/8/2013 3:31:21 PM

Erdoğan, your nose is growing like Pinocchio. Do you really think anyone believes you?

Agnes Smith

11/8/2013 11:52:27 AM

Swedish prime minister doesn't look too convinced - and neither are we

T.C

11/8/2013 9:53:38 AM

And how exactly is AKP dealing with PKK? Oh yeah that's right, by letting them get a way with bloody murder. Much like they are doing with Al-Qaeda! They communicate, negotiate, support and arm both! It's a disgusting and treasonous act. The PKK are now untouchable in Turkey since the AKP came along. They show more remorse and understanding for a terrorist organisation then they do for their citizens and soldiers whom have bravely given their lives fighting against these terrorists! Shameful

Dr Bob

11/8/2013 8:03:20 AM

What a coward move of RTE to neglect the obvious. There have been enough eye witnesses in the region to observe that the rabid, bloodthirsty maneaters from Al Nusra are getting a safe, "well equipped" lift from Turkey into Syria - and medical treatment on turkish soil. Turkey is turning into a yobaz republic - a government sponsored safe haven for terrorists. This is a disgrace for all of us!

jim handley

11/8/2013 4:17:21 AM

Remember the quote from Erdogan on whether President Omar al-Bashir was abetting the atrocities in the Sudan... “no Muslim could perpetrate a genocide,” . Once a liar always a liar.

Adnan Kara Osman

11/8/2013 1:54:04 AM

You people do u seriously think RTE or other middleastern leaders are going to admit they are supporting any labelled terrorist organisations that America or any other Zionist led Government portrays. They would be shooting themselves in their head if that was the case. This war in Syria wont end until a Zionist Subservient opposition group is formed that will bow down to the interests of the west or Russia at this stage Hence so called Terrorists groups are fighting this saint Assad.

Adnan Kara Osman

11/8/2013 1:43:39 AM

@can oz this is no conspiracy mate this is u are either " with us or against us" this is why Journalists are requested to ask leaders of conservative nature these questions to see their reactions and to undermine their characters. This just proves that those super powers still have control over the masses for their own interests and criminal agendas. Look buddy its not surprising one bit when America calls someone a terrorist group and Russia calls Assad a Saint you should understand its a game

Tabbaa Yasser

11/8/2013 1:18:10 AM

Turkey's southern border with Syria cannot be controlled and is in fact out of control. Turkey may wish to filter out FSA from Nusra and Qaeda, jihadis from non-jihadis, but it's a futile task, as is in fact admitted in recent reports by Turkish border security. If Erdogan is serious about not aiding jihadists, then the border should be all but closed.

Agnes Smith

11/7/2013 11:51:50 PM

just wonder now where the pro AKP lobby is on this one - seems quiet - but we always look forward to your hysterical debate..
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