Bombs jolt politics as Turkish PM leaves for US trip

Bombs jolt politics as Turkish PM leaves for US trip

Bombs jolt politics as Turkish PM leaves for US trip

An unidentified man stands in front of a destroyed building hours after a twin bomb attack that killed at least 51 in Reyhanlı. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

The prime minister accused the two main opposition parties of assuming a “provocative and inhuman approach” in the aftermath of the deadly twin bombings near the Syrian border, while the opposition leaders accused him of insisting on a mistaken Syria policy that cost the lives of its own citizens.

The angry exchanges between Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli are the latest indication of the bold differences between their respective Syria policies. The harsh polemic came just hours before Erdoğan departed for a much anticipated official visit to Washington, where he will have talks with U.S. President Barack Obama on May 16 that will focus on the Syrian crisis.

The PM was defiant in the face of blunt attacks by the opposition against the government’s policy on Syria, which they say lead to the bomb attacks in Reyhanlı, a town in the border province Hatay. He said they could not turn a blind eye to the tragedy in Syria and gave examples of such foreign policies in the past. Thanks to the fact that it opened its doors to Iraqi Kurds in the aftermath of the Halabja massacre, Turkey is now able to stand tall in its relations with Arbil, Erdoğan said, referring to the capital of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq. “When the time comes, we will make the guilty pay back in multiples,” Erdoğan said.

Speaking at the airport before he left for the U.S., Erdoğan also responded negatively to Damascus’ proposition for a joint inquiry on the Reyhanlı attack that killed 51 people. “Are we waiting for those who sent us this message to say, ‘Yes, we’re the ones who did this?’” he asked.

‘Collapsed’ Syria policy

Erdoğan particularly criticized the CHP leader for agitating the issue, saying they were making a “historic mistake.”

“Unlike the main opposition party, we have not sided with the cruel, the dictator, the murderers with blood on their hands,” he said.

According to Bahçeli, however, the government’s Syria policy has “collapsed.” Both he and Kılıçdaroğlu suggested that the government should offer its resignation for its responsibility for the attacks. “The AKP government should apologize to the Turkish nation for its Syria policy, which has been destroyed,” Bahçeli said.

Kılıçdaroğlu recalled the government’s “zero problems with neighbors” discourse in foreign policy, saying that it was now at odds with everybody. “As long as [Foreign Minister Ahmet] Davutoğlu sits in that chair and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sits in the prime minister’s chair, serenity will not come to this country.”

Peace and Democracy (BDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş joined in the criticism, saying the government should abandon its Syria policy.