Turkish PM accuses Iraq of not protecting its Mosul consulate

Turkish PM accuses Iraq of not protecting its Mosul consulate

Turkish PM accuses Iraq of not protecting its Mosul consulate

Demonstrators chant pro-al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as the wave al-Qaida flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul. AP Photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the Iraqi authorities of not protecting the Turkish consulate in Mosul and the 49 Turkish citizens who were kidnapped by jihadist terrorists last week, vowing that all efforts are being exerted for their immediate release.

“All embassies and staff are under the guarantee of their host countries. Each country is responsible for providing the security of life and property of diplomatic personnel operating in their territories, deeming them as their own honor,” Erdoğan said in his weekly parliamentary group speech on June 17, six days after Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants raided the Turkish consulate in Mosul.

Forty-nine Turkish citizens, including Consul-General Öztürk Yıldırım and 31 truck drivers have been held by ISIL since last week, after the militants seized control of Mosul and surrounding cities.

“The central government in Iraq could not do that and failed to protect Turkey’s consulate in Mosul,” the prime minister added, blaming the Shiite prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki. Erdoğan’s ties with al-Maliki have worsened in recent years, with the Iraqi leader accusing the Turkish government of interfering in Baghdad’s domestic affairs.

“God willing, our diplomatic personnel and our citizens being held as hostages will return safely to their home. We are carrying out all necessary works for their release in a sensitive way,” Erdoğan also said. His use of the word “hostages” was noteworthy, as government spokespeople have recently insisted that Turkish citizens were not being kept as hostages but rather as “obligatory guests” of the ISIL.

‘CHP is doing racism’

Making no further comments on the hostage crisis, Erdoğan chose instead to slam the opposition parties over their approach toward recent developments, accusing the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) of pursuing 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.

Claiming that CHP leader Kemal 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 defended his government’s foreign policy and dismissed accusations of “sectarianism.” “We have never looked at the Middle East from a sectarian angle,” he said, throwing the accusation back at the CHP by repeating his claims that CHP officials were defending the Bashar al-Assad regime out of “sectarian closeness.” “They tried to carry the fire in Egypt into Turkey. They tried to carry the fire in Syria and now in Iraq into Turkey, but they failed,” Erdoğan said.