PM Erdoğan slams opposition parties over response to Mosul kidnappings

PM Erdoğan slams opposition parties over response to Mosul kidnappings

PM Erdoğan slams opposition parties over response to Mosul kidnappings

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks in his hometown of Rize on June 13. AA Photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed the opposition for trying to “exploit” the kidnappings in the Iraqi city of Mosul, while assuring that intense diplomatic efforts are being carried out to secure the release of 80 Turkish hostages being held by militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The ISIL jihadists took 31 truck drivers and 49 members of the Turkish consulate hostage after seizing Mosul on June 9.

“Efforts to bring them back unharmed are ongoing. We are doing everything necessary for this. Hopefully we will hear good news,” said Erdoğan during a speech in his hometown of Rize on June 13.

He added that he spoke on the phone with Mosul Consul General Öztürk Yılmaz after the latter was taken hostage. “We have mobilized all our means for the return of the personnel. Our efforts with the Iraqi government are continuing,” he said, before slamming wider criticism from the opposition parties regarding the government’s Middle East policy.

“Turkey is a great country. All the necessary steps will be made with calm. Our first priority is the security of our citizens. This is why we cannot act the same way as the opposition. They don’t carry any weight on their shoulders,” Erdoğan said.

He particularly singled out main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, over his suggestion that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu should resign during their June 12 meeting about the situation in Iraq.   

“The opposition has lost all their balance. We are struggling to bring the personnel back home safe and sound from Mosul, while they are thinking about how they can exploit this situation,” Erdoğan said.

The prime minister also accused the opposition parties of trying to “provoke” ISIL. “They say ‘we reject your policy in the Middle East.’ But we cannot expect you to approve it. You are arm-in-arm with [Syrian leader] Bashar al-Assad, while we are opposed to him,” he said.

Erdoğan also lashed out at the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, after Bahçeli said a demonstrator who controversially removed a Turkish flag from a mast inside an army base in the southern province of Diyarbakır should have been “shot.”

“Nearly 100 of our citizens are in [ISIL’s] hands. How could you explain if something happened to them? We are trying to find a solution to bring them back. But if you ask Bahçeli, for him the person who brought down the flag should have been shot in his forehead,” he said.

ISIL militants had first captured 31 truck drivers transporting crude from the oil fields near Mosul to the Port of İskenderun in southern Turkey, before raiding the consulate building in the city and taking hostage 49 workers, including diplomats and their families. Turkish officials say that intense contacts are being carried out to obtain their release.