World Bulletin / News Desk
“I was disillusioned, because I would expect this? I served both as a prime minister and president in this country and whenever the U.S. requested extradition of those kinds of terrorists I handed them over. Obama also should have done it and handed that man to us,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told CBS News in an interview broadcast late Sunday in reference to Gulen who leads the Fetullah Terror Organization (FETO).
The extradition has been a key issue straining Turkey-U.S. relations since a faction in the Turkish military linked to Gulen launched a bloody coup bid in July that caused the deaths of at least 241 victims and wounded nearly 2,200 others before being defeated by resistance from the Turkish citizenry and law enforcement.
Turkey has officially requested Gulen’s extradition but the Justice Department has been slow to process the pile of evidence Ankara as submitted while citing unsatisfactory proof.
The stalemate has produced strong feelings in Turkey that the U.S. is protecting Gulen and scores of followers.
Although Erdogan said he would not blame the U.S. for the coup, he noted that the perception among Turks would not change as along as Gulen resides in the state of Pennsylvania.
“Why is this man still here? Send him to me or send him away from your country. This is an international terror group [FETO]. As long as you harbor him -- excuse me but Turkey’s and the Turkish nation’s perception would not be different than that,” Erdogan told the 60 Minutes television news magazine.
The Turkish president also slammed the U.S. for its support of PKK’s affiliations in Syria, including the PYD and its military wing, YPG.
Turkey has been critical of U.S. air support and arms supply to the PKK/PYD because it has been designated a terror organization by the U.S., Turkey and EU.
But the Obama administration has cited the fight against ISIL as justification for its support for the group.
“You cannot defend a terrorist group just because they are fighting ISIL, all terror groups are bad and we shall fight them all. But we haven’t agreed with the U.S. on this,” Erdogan said.
Turkey vows to prevent any de facto separatist actions orchestrated by the PKK/PYD in Syria and the Turkish military has pounded YPG positions in northern Syria as it supports moderate Syrian opposition groups against ISIL.