Turkey protests after US Embassy likes tweet about ill nationalist party leader

Elias Hubbard
October 9, 2019

A woman walks past a banner for the upcoming local elections in Ankara, Turkey, March 27, 2019.

On Saturday, the official Twitter account of the US Embassy in Turkey "liked" a Twitter message by Ergun Babahan, a FETO member who fled Turkey following the July 15 coup attempt in 2016, which left 251 people dead and almost 2,200 injured.

The post was written, Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) claimed, by a user who was wanted for links to the network of Fethullah Gulen, which Ankara says orchestrated the coup attempt in July 2016.

The U.S. embassy said it acted in error and "unliked" the "unrelated post", saying on Twitter that "we regret the mistake and apologize for any confusion". Banner with pictures of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Devlet Bahceli, leader of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), reads: "People's Alliance: The unity of common sense".

The U.S. ambassador, David Satterfield, arrived in Turkey earlier this year after a period of almost two years without an American ambassador to Ankara following John Bass' departure in 2017.

Many interpreted the tweet as suggesting that the nationalist leader Devlet Bahceli could soon die.

The dispute comes at a time when relations between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies are strained due to Turkey's threats of an incursion into northeastern Syria, after Ankara accused Washington of stalling efforts to establish a "safe zone" there together.

Turkey on Sunday slammed the US Embassy in Ankara for "liking" a Twitter post by a FETO fugitive, attacking Turkey's Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Omer Celik, spokesperson for the AKP, said the U.S. State Department and embassy need to investigate into the issue and an apology only would be unacceptable. We do not associate ourselves with Ergun Babahan nor do we endorse or agree with the content of his tweet.

"Freudian slip? The U.S. Embassy has no business meddling in Turkey's domestic affairs". However, the next day the USA diplomats apologised for it, stressing that it was a mistake, Trend reports citing Sputnik. Disagreements remain on the size of the zone.

Meanwhile, Erdogan and U.S President Donald Trump agreed to meet in Washington next month to discuss the proposed safe zone, Turkish officials said following a telephone call between the two leaders.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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