AKP, CHP in war of words over hostages
ANKARAPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on June 17 engaged in war of words over the 80 Turkish citizen hostages taken by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq.
Erdoğan slammed the opposition parties over their approach toward recent developments, accusing the CHP of “opportunism” and of trying to score political points over the incident. “Turning this very sensitive issue - an issue concerning the life security of 80 of our citizens - into an internal political issue is a pure show of irresponsibility,” he said in his weekly parliamentary group speech, six days after ISIL militants raided the Turkish consulate in Mosul.
For his part, the CHP leader said the prime minister himself had turned the Middle East into a “swamp” and accused the government of training militants inside Turkey to fight against regime forces in Syria.
Claiming that CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu’s statements on the issue put the lives of the hostages in danger, Erdoğan also criticized him for describing the Middle East as a swamp.
“This proves his ignorance of history. It is an open ignorance. Calling a region where millions of people live a swamp is racism, fascism and discrimination. One would think he was born in London or in Paris. You are born in Tunceli and you grow up there and you call the Middle East a swamp. This is a denial of your own identity,” he said.
The prime minister also accused the Iraqi authorities of not protecting the Turkish consulate in Mosul and the 49 Turkish citizens who were kidnapped by ISIL militants last week, vowing that all efforts were being exerted for their immediate release. Forty-nine Turkish citizens, including Consul-General Öztürk Yıldırım and 31 truck drivers have been held by ISIL since the militants seized control of Mosul and surrounding cities.
CHP head Kılıçdaroğlu criticized the news blackout imposed by a Turkish court on the hostage situation. “Our consulate staff has been taken hostage. They say, ‘don’t speak about that.’ Why shouldn’t we speak? Aren’t they our citizens? They say, ‘don’t call ISIL terrorist organization.’ Why? If we say so, they will kill our citizens. He [Erdoğan] could not even call it a terrorist organization,” he said in his weekly parliamentary group speech.
“I can understand why he couldn’t call it [a terrorist organization]. Why? Because he gives weapons to them, he feeds them, and he is the one who treated the wounded ones in Turkey,” Kılıçdaroğlu added.