MHP head questions latest foreign policy moves by AKP government

MHP head questions latest foreign policy moves by AKP government

MHP head questions latest foreign policy moves by AKP government

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Turkey’s nationalist opposition leader has lambasted the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) recent foreign policy moves, particularly questioning rapprochement with Israel and a decision to remove troops from the Bashiqa camp near Mosul.

“Until yesterday, they were calling Israel a ‘terrorist state.’ Until yesterday, they were calling Israel a ‘murderer.’ Until yesterday, they were calling Israel to account for the Mavi Marmara [incident],” Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), said on Dec. 22, referring to both President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu by name.

“What has changed now so that suddenly it was remembered that Israel is a friendly country? What has happened so that a need was felt to hold clandestine talks and for an agreement with Israel? Upon which threats and concessions did Erdoğan voice the Middle East’s need for Turkey-Israel rapprochement? Wasn’t he complaining that Israel has been threatening peace?” Bahçeli asked, while speaking at a parliamentary group meeting of his party. 

Underlining that his party did not favor having “hostile” relations with Israel, Bahçeli, however, said they wanted to learn about the real reason behind the recent developments, as Turkish governmental officials acknowledged there had been progress in the normalization of relations with Israel. 

Bahçeli recalled that Turkey announced over the weekend its decision to continue to remove troops from the Bashiqa camp near Mosul after nearly 10 days of tension with the Iraqi government and upon insistent appeals from Washington, which included a phone call from U.S. President Barack Obama to his Turkish counterpart, Erdoğan.

“They dispatched armored units to Mosul on Dec. 5. We considered it positive and lent support. Not long after, Erdoğan claimed with determination on his face that withdrawal from Mosul is out of question,” Bahçeli said, noting that Davutoğlu at the time followed the same line as Erdoğan. 

“What has happened so that a part of our military unit in the Bashiqa camp was shifted to the Bamerni camp in the north of Iraq? That was, meanwhile, called a ‘rearrangement.’ That was not enough and backward steps didn’t stop,” Bahçeli said, referring to Obama’s call to Erdoğan and the Foreign Ministry’s statement on Dec. 19.

“You went to Bashiqa on the pretext of Mosul; why are you returning then? What is it that has scared you?” he asked. 

According to daily Hürriyet, during his call Obama stressed the issue had turned into a matter of national honor for Iraqis and he wanted Erdoğan to take steps to relieve Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The U.S. president requested the withdrawal of the troops and suggested they could return after getting the necessary approval from the Iraqi government. 

“Mr. Erdoğan, couldn’t you ask Obama whether Turkey wouldn’t be able to pass right across its border for Turkey’s security and the existence of its kin while the U.S. is able to launch operations in Iraq by coming from thousands of kilometers away? While Obama is mentioning Iraq’s honor, aren’t you - you and the caravan of cowards that you lead - able to protect the Turkish nation’s honor?” he asked.