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Turkish PM hits out at US statements on bin Laden killing

11 May 2011 [10:51] - TODAY.AZ
The Turkish prime minister has criticized statements made by American officials after the killing of Osama bin Laden, breaking with other top Turkish officials who expressed strong satisfaction with the U.S. operation against the al-Qaeda chief.

"I find America’s statement that the world is now safer after bin Laden’s death to be wrong. This is not an individual issue. There is not one bin Laden, there are many of him," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in an interview with Kanal 7 on Monday night.

Drawing attention to the timing of the operation, Erdoğan noted a statement made by Pakistani President Asef Ali Zardari indicating that the Americans could have gotten bin Laden earlier.

"Which one shall we believe now?" Erdoğan asked.

He added, though, that this issue was also confusing because Zardari did not discuss it when they met during the Pakistani president’s visit to Turkey in mid-April.

Appearing on the U.S. television show "Meet the Press" on May 10, 2009, Zardari dismissed a question about bin Laden’s whereabouts, saying: "You all have been there for eight years, you tell me. You lost him in Tora Bora, I didn’t."

Bin Laden, the architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in Washington and New York, was killed earlier this month by U.S. forces in a raid on his hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The Pakistani administration’s claim that it was unaware of bin Laden’s whereabouts is "also worth questioning," Erdoğan said.

The prime minister cited another statement that he said added to the confusion, a claim by Iran’s intelligence chief that they had evidence that bin Laden was already dead before the May 1 raid. Erdoğan dismissed the suggestion that he had discussed this issue with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad late Monday during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 4th U.N. Conference on Least Developed Countries being held in Istanbul.

More than 1,000 civilians dead in Syria

During the interview, Erdoğan also addressed developments in neighboring Syria. Though he highlighted his personal relationship with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, he did not hide his displeasure at the growing civilian casualties due to harsh intervention against demonstrators by security forces.

The Syrian leadership told Turkey that demonstrators had killed five soldiers and seven police officers, Erdoğan said, but added that the number of civilian dead in Syria has already exceeded 1,000.

"An administration’s opening fire on its people is not right. Because there is no an armed group challenging [it]," Erdoğan said, repeating his earlier calls to Damascus not to repeat the massacres of Hama and Humus in the early 1980s.

Press freedom in Turkey

Addressing the growing criticisms of the Turkish government by Western powers over deteriorating press freedom in Turkey, Erdoğan accused critical Western politicians and journalistic associations of simply following Turkish journalists without further investigating the situation.

"In the West, there are no journalists who are trying to plot or helping those who plot a coup. But this is the case in Turkey. We are aware of those who want to overthrow our government," he said.

There are journalists who have never written even one thing in favor of his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP’s, actions, Erdoğan added. “Isn’t there anything among our actions to be applauded?” he asked. "Among these journalists are some famous writers. Their only mood is beating the [AKP], beating Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, beating our government."

/Hurriyet Daily News/


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