US senators criticized the policies of the Turkish government during a hearing on Wednesday and called for more action from the Biden administration.
Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said United Stations must take action when it comes to human rights issues in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, insinuating that the Biden administration has only condemned.
Erdogan doesn’t care what we say, Van Hollen said. It will be up to us to act, to defend the rule of law, to defend democracy so that Turkey does not set an example for others to be NATO’s infidel allies.
The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing on US policy towards Turkey on Wednesday. Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, testified before the influential committee. Turkey is an ally of the United States in NATO, although relations have deteriorated in recent years, especially because of American support for Kurdish fighters in Syria with whom Ankara is in conflict.
Lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, have expressed strong opposition to a number of Turkish policies. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey referred to reports that Turkey is build a drone base in Cyprus contested towards the start of the hearing.
Is Turkey establishing a drone base in occupied Cyprus? My information is that they are, Menendez, who heads the committee, told Nuland.
Nuland did not confirm the administrations’ knowledge of the drone base, but said such a base would obviously be destabilizing.
Cyprus is divided between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the latter recognized only by Turkey. Menendez also condemned Turkey’s development plans in northern Cyprus during the hearing.
Menendez is a critic of the Turkish government. He also referred to Turkey’s offshore drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean in waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus. Menendez said the Biden administration was illogical in appeal from both sides negotiate, accusing Turkey of being the sole aggressor on the issue.
We cannot call on both sides to try to negotiate in good faith when one is the aggressor, he said. We make a huge mistake when we fail to recognize who the abuser is.
Menendez and other senators have also expressed concern over the Turkish government’s efforts to ban the People’s Democratic Party (HDP). The opposition party supports the rights of the Kurdish minority in Turkey. The president said the 2023 elections in Turkey would be illegitimate if the HDP was banned.
These elections could not be valid, he said. It’s as if President Biden is banning the Republican Party from participating. Let’s go.
Ankara accuses the HDP of being linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and the United States. Nuland acknowledged Turkey’s legitimate concerns over the PKK, but said Turkish efforts to ban the HDP were part of the Biden administration’s broader concerns about democracy in Turkey.
It is a very different matter to use terrorism as an excuse to stamp out political pluralism or ban individual parties, she said.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut addressed the ongoing crackdown following the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, which Erdogan blamed on supporters of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Turkey has sent at least hundreds requests to arrest the international police organization Interpol for suspected coup participants, and has successfully detained such individuals around the world. Murphy accused Turkey of abusing Interpol’s resources in the matter.
Nuland agreed with the senator.
You’re not wrong, she told Murphy. When the Interpol system is inundated with substandard cases, it consumes time, energy and money.
Many observers expected Biden to usher in a cooler era in US-Turkish relations, in part because of Biden’s criticism of the NATO ally as he ran for president. Turkey opposed Biden’s recognition in April of the Armenian genocide. The relationship appeared to improve somewhat after Biden and Erdoganmet in person in June.
Nuland was somewhat optimistic about the relationship between the United States and Turkey at times during the hearing. She called the Turkish Ambassador to Washington, Murat Mercan, very engaging and praised his efforts to mend the clearly deteriorating relationship.
The hearing addressed many other issues, including US opposition to Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system. Republican Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, who is the most prominent member of the committee, called the deal very troubling. Nuland assured the senator that the administration will continue to exclude Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program in response.
Nuland did not provide any update on the imprisonment of Turkish employees at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Turkey, but said their release was a major concern of the administration.
She also declined to speak at the hearing on Turkey’s dispatch of Syrian rebel forces to Azerbaijan last year during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia, pledging to address the issue during the meeting. a separate session.
On US support for the Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State in northeastern Syria which are targeted by Turkey, Nuland said: “At this point we have agreed to disagree. She specifically referred to the Peoples Protection Units, aka YPG, and the Syrian Democratic Forces led by the YPG.
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