Turkish Prime Minister Recap Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that “the situation in Iraq is not positive at all,” contrary to U.S. claims of progress after five years of conflict.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech on ‘Turkey’s Role in Shaping the Future’ at the Columbia University World Leaders Forum, Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008, in New York.(AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)
Mr. Erdogan, in Washington to attend the Group of 20 financial summit, said Afghanistan was “another disastrous event” and that the Bush administration had spent more than $500 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan without stabilizing either country.
By Barbara Slavin
The Washington Times
Bipartisan in his criticism, the Turkish leader also chided President-elect Barack Obama for openly promising to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq within 16 months. It would have been better for Mr. Obama to have kept his timetable secret, Mr. Erdogan said.
Turkey opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and its parliament failed to approve the transit of U.S. forces from bases in Turkey into Iraq at the time. Since then, however, Turkey has become a major supplier for U.S. forces. It fears a U.S. withdrawal could lead to even more instability in Iraq and a possible partition of the country that would aggravate Turkey’s problems with a large Kurdish minority.
Mr. Erdogan, speaking at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, said he had visited both Iraq and Afghanistan and “I couldn’t help but wonder where does all that money [provided by the United States] go?” He said Turkey, instead of giving money, was building schools and hospitals and providing training to police and local governments.