Ridiculed Erdogan, Cavusoglu statements that raise questions on Turk credibility

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Statements made by leading Turkish officials in recent days have been met with ridicule and contradicted in the United States and other countries for being inaccurate and misleading.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday he spoke with President Trump about northeastern Syria, where he said he could launch a new operation against U.S-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters at “anytime,” The Associated Press reported.


Erdogan allowed that he had been given “positive answers” from President Trump on the situation in northeastern Syria when the two spoke by phone Friday.

On Monday, Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning on Monday said Erdogan did not and only he spoke positions on held by US President Donald Trump of which the Pentagon had no knowledge of at the current time, according to statements carried on US-backed Al Hurra channel.

Manning stressed that the Pentagon sees alarming risks if Turkey decides to launch ground military incursions into Syria.

The Pentagon has expressed grave concern, saying unilateral military action by any party in northeast Syria – where US forces operate – would be “unacceptable”.

On Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Trump told Erdogan at their meeting in Buenos Aires that the United States “was working on extraditing Gulen and other people.” However a senior White House official said on Monday that President Donald Trump did not commit during a meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at the G20 summit two weeks ago to extradite the Muslim cleric based in the United States.

“While meeting with President Erdogan at the G20, the president did not commit to extradite Fethullah Gulen,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

On Sunday also, in a surprising statement, Turkish Foreign Minister Meblut Cavusoglu claimed at the Doha Forum that US Pastor Andrew Brunson, who stood trial in Turkey over terrorism charges, is a CIA agent. Cavusoglu’s statements have been ridiculed in the US, with some even calling it a joke.

Cavusoglu is known for making controversial statements.

During the same event also, Turkish foreign minister has said that under conditions, everybody "should consider" working with the Bashar al-Assad. However, he later said that his statements were misinterpreted.

History of incidents

These are not isolated incidents but a series of misquotes, retractions and plain inaccurate ones leading to denial from foreign officials and counterparts of the Turkish leadership.

Earlier in November, Erdogan said that France, Germany and Britain had been handed recordings related to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said this was not the case, as far as he knew.

He added that France was not in possession of as far as he was aware, contradicting remarks by Turkey’s president.

Asked if that meant Erdogan was lying, Le Drian said: “It means that he has a political game to play in these circumstances.”

The Turkish president said in a speech on 4 March 2006 in Istanbul “Turkey has an important and major role… and it an integral part of those who launched the idea of the Greater Middle East project and North Africa project.”

In April 2013, in his response to a journalist, Erdogan said: “for those who talk about papers, claiming that we participated in the US project. If you have a proof for this, we are ready for anything, but if you did not prove it, you are decadent and has no honor.”

In 1997 when Erdogan was Istanbul’s mayor, he said in a TV interview: “99% of the population of this country are Muslims, you can either be Muslim or secular, there is no Muslim and secular. Thus, if you tried to bring two opposing magnetic fields together, it is impossible to combine them. That is the case, no one can claim that he is Muslim and say he is secular. It is impossible.”

During his last visit to Egypt in 12 September 2011, after 25 January revolution. In a TV interview, Erdogan called the Egyptian people to develop a secular constitution instead of the constitution that was overthrown by the revolution. “Secularism does not mean non-religiousness, it means respecting all religions and ensuring everyone’s freedom to practice his religion.”

In February 2014 Erdogan said: “Do you say that the country that possesses about 30 thousands media channels, would ban the Internet… the whole world will laugh at you.”

In March of the same year, he said, “I do not care about the international community’s objection. Some social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and others are not useful for this nation.”

In February 2010, Erdogan said during a parliamentary session: “Our party nor the state can fight the judiciary or take a position against it.”

During a television interview in March 2014, he said: “The judiciary no longer issues fair decisions and nor a symbol of justice, they are originally gang.”

In the June 2011 TV interview, Erdogan was asked: “The presidential regime lies in your heart?!” Erdogan replied: “It is in my heart, but I have nothing to do, it is according to the people’s will.”

Minutes later in the same interview, the anchor said: “The President talked clearly, this is the main title of the message. The presidential regime lies in my heart.” and before finishing reading the message; Erdogan interrupted him saying: “I did not say something like this.”

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