PM Erdoğan dragging Turkey into sectarian fights: Kılıçdaroğlu

PM Erdoğan dragging Turkey into sectarian fights: Kılıçdaroğlu

The continuation of Turkey’s current foreign policy under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will cause sectarian terrorism to spill across the country, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has claimed.

On board the plane carrying him to Adana, as a part of the CHP's campaign in support of presidential candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters that Erdoğan’s foreign policy had caused Turkey to lose its former “credibility, position and influence in the Middle East.”

“The secretary general of the United Nations is having a regional tour in order to find a way to bring a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, but Turkey is not included in his tour,” he said. “Such a thing could not have been thought of until a few years ago. This is the position Erdoğan has reduced Turkey to. We were a major actor in the region until Erdoğan’s sectarian-focused politics.”

Kılıçdaroğlu did not elaborate, but he implied Erdoğan’s strong Sunni identity by saying that. 

The CHP leader said “sectarian-based” politics had brought nothing other than “pain, blood and tears” to the Middle East, and if Erdoğan continued down this line it could spill across into Turkey too.

“The government has a major responsibility in the bloodshed in the region, from Iraq to Syria, to Gaza” Kılıçdaroğlu continued/ “That is one of the main reasons why we supported İhsanoğlu’s presidential candidacy. As an internationally credible personality, having served as the secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], I believe under his presidency, Turkey’s credibility in the region and in the West could be resumed as well. That would comfort the countries in our region, too.”

İhsanoğlu’s candidacy

But what if Erdoğan wins, as a number of polls show? “I am sorry to say it, but in that case Turkey might pay the price that some Middle Eastern countries are paying now. I want and I believe that İhsanoğlu will win in the first round and this whole thing will be over,” he said.

In response to a question about what could happen to the CHP and his leadership if İhsanoğlu loses, Kılıçdaroğlu said politics was the "art of taking risks." "We are not supporting İhsanoğlu for our party interests; we support him as a non-partisan, credible individual for the good of our country and actually for the Middle East. There could be debates within the CHP, there could even be a party congress. These are considered normal within democratic principles,” he added.

What about Gül?

Kılıçdaroğlu also touched on the question of President Abdullah Gül’s future after his term ends, and whether he will resume leadership of the Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) and the government if Erdoğan is elected president next month.

“Gül has tied up his political future with Erdoğan’s will,” Kılıçdaroğlu said harshly. “If Erdoğan grants it, Gül could carry on in politics; if not, it seems he will retire into his corner. He doesn’t rely on his own power, but on Erdoğan’s. He did not have the capacity to set up a new party, anyway.”

Kılıçdaroğlu also claimed that there was a serious debate ongoing within the AK Parti, but the election results will show how this will end.