US senator says Turkish actions in opposition to pro-Kurdish get together like ‘if Biden banned the Republican Party’

US senators criticized Turkish authorities insurance policies throughout a Wednesday listening to, and demanded extra motion from the Biden administration. 

Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland mentioned the United Stations must take motion in relation to human rights points in Turkey beneath President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, insinuating that the Biden administration has merely supplied condemnation. 

“Erdogan doesn’t care what we say,” mentioned Van Hollen. “It’s going be up to us to take action, to defend the rule of law, to defend democracy so Turkey does not set an example for others to be unfaithful NATO allies.” 

The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a listening to on US coverage towards Turkey on Wednesday. Victoria Nuland, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, testified earlier than the influential committee. Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States, although relations have soured in recent times, significantly over US assist for Kurdish fighters in Syria that Ankara is in battle with.

The lawmakers, each Democrats and Republicans, voiced sturdy opposition to numerous Turkish insurance policies. Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey referred to experiences that Turkey is constructing a drone base in disputed Cyprus towards the beginning of the listening to. 

“Is Turkey establishing a drone base in occupied Cyprus? My information is that they are,” Menendez, who heads the committee, mentioned to Nuland. 

Nuland didn’t verify the administration’s consciousness of the drone base, however mentioned such a base “would obviously be destabilizing.”

Cyprus is split between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the latter solely being acknowledged by Turkey. Menendez additionally condemned Turkey’s growth plans in Northern Cyprus on the listening to. 

Menendez is a critic of the Turkish authorities. He additionally addressed Turkey’s offshore drilling exercise within the jap Mediterranean in waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus. Menendez mentioned the Biden administration was being illogical in calling for either side to barter, accusing Turkey of being the only real “aggressor” on the difficulty. 

“We can’t be calling on both sides to try to negotiate in good faith when one is the aggressor,” he mentioned. “We make a huge mistake when we don’t acknowledge who the aggressor is.” 

Menendez and different senators additionally expressed concern over the Turkish authorities’s efforts to ban the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The opposition get together helps the rights of Turkey’s Kurdish minority. The chairman mentioned Turkey’s 2023 elections could be illegitimate if the HDP will get outlawed. 

“Those elections could not have validity,” he mentioned. “That’s like if President Biden banned the Republican party from participating. C’mon.” 

Ankara accuses the HDP of being linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is taken into account a terrorist group by each Turkey and the United States. Nuland acknowledged Turkey’s reputable considerations in regards to the PKK, however mentioned Turkish efforts to ban the HDP are a part of the Biden administration’s “larger concern” about democracy in Turkey.

 “It’s a far different matter to use terrorism as an excuse to eradicate political pluralism or ban individual parties,” she mentioned. 

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut addressed the continued crackdown following the 2016 coup try in Turkey, which Erdogan blamed on supporters of the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. 

Turkey has despatched at the least lots of of arrest requests to the worldwide police group Interpol for alleged coup individuals, and has efficiently detained such people world wide. Murphy accused Turkey of an “overuse” of Interpol’s sources on the matter. 

Nuland agreed with the senator.  

“You are not wrong,” she instructed Murphy. “When the Interpol system is flooded with cases that do no meet standards, it sucks up time and energy and money.” 

Many observers anticipated Biden to usher in a cooler period of US-Turkey relations, partially resulting from Biden’s criticism of the NATO ally whereas he was operating for president. Turkey opposed Biden’s April recognition of the Armenian genocide. The relationship appeared to considerably enhance after Biden and Erdogan met in individual in June. 

Nuland was considerably upbeat about US-Turkey ties at occasions throughout the listening to. She known as Turkey’s ambassador to Washington, Murat Mercan, “very engaging” and lauded his efforts to restore the “obviously deteriorating” relationship. 

The listening to touched on quite a few different points, together with US opposition to Turkey’s buy of Russia’s S-400 missile protection system. Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, who’s the rating member of the committee, known as the deal “very troubling.” Nuland assured the senator that the administration would proceed to exclude Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program in response. 

Nuland didn’t provide any updates on the imprisonment of Turkish workers of the US diplomatic mission in Turkey, however mentioned their launch is a “top concern” of the administration. 

She additionally declined to talk throughout the listening to about Turkey sending Syrian insurgent forces to Azerbaijan final 12 months throughout the Nagorno-Karabakh battle with Armenia, pledging to handle the matter in a separate session. 

On US assist for Kurdish forces combating the Islamic State in northeast Syria who’re being focused by Turkey, Nuland mentioned, “At this stage, we’ve agreed to disagree.” She particularly referred to the People’s Protection Units, aka YPG, and the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces. 

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