The United States weighed in on escalating tensions between France and Turkey on Tuesday, telling Al Arabiya English that “unnecessary” infighting between NATO allies “only serves our adversaries.”
“The United States strongly believes that unnecessary Alliance infighting only serves our adversaries,” a State Department spokesperson told Al Arabiya English.
The US, France, and Turkey are part of the 29-member international military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which was founded to create a counterweight to the Soviet Union’s military capabilities at the time the organization was established in 1949.
Erdogan vs. Macron
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lashed out at French President Emmanuel Macron in recent days following Macron’s response to the beheading of a teacher in France by an extremist over the use of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a class on freedom of expression.
Macron said last week that France will not give up caricatures and that the teacher was killed “because Islamists want our future,” vowing “they will never have it.”
On Monday, Erdogan responded in a provocative speech that accused Macron of having both an “anti-Islam agenda” and mental problems.
France recalled its ambassador from Ankara over the comments.
The Turkish president also went on to urge Turks “never” to buy French brands and said that Muslims in Europe are being treated like Jewish people before World War II.
“Muslims are now subjected to a lynch campaign similar to that against Jews in Europe before World War II,” he said.
European leaders including the prime minister of Italy have condemned Erdogan’s statements as “unacceptable.”
The latest flareup between Erdogan and Macron is just one incident in a series of bilateral clashes over issues including the conflict in Libya, the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, and maritime control in the eastern Mediterranean.
Macron accused the Turkish government in July of having “criminal responsibility” in Libya by allegedly bringing extremist fighters from Syria to Tripoli, instead of respecting a UN arms embargo.
The French president has described Turkey’s involvement as “dangerous” in both Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, the ethnic Armenian province that is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.
Last month Macron said there was clear evidence that Syrian extremist fighters were being sent through Turkey to help Azerbaijan fight against Armenia in the province.
Turkey has denied sending arms or foreign fighters to fight Armenian forces, but has publicly backed Azerbaijan.
Despite the public sparring, Erdogan and Macron held their first conversation in months on September 23 to discuss a standoff in the Eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and European Union member states Cyprus and Greece.
Macron urged Turkey to “fully respect the sovereignty” of the EU member states in response to Ankara attempting to expand its energy resources and control in the eastern Mediterranean.
The two leaders agreed to keep in contact, according to the French foreign office.