TURKISH PRESIDENT WARNS “CALAMITIES WILL HAPPEN” IF THE RISE OF EXTREMISM IS NOT HALTED
ISTANBUL (AFP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday called for a united front by Muslim leaders to fight extremism after the Paris attacks, warning that otherwise jihadists will commit further atrocities.
Erdogan warned that “calamities will happen again” if the rise of radical Islam is not halted in Europe, after the Paris attacks last Friday claimed by the Daesh group which killed 129 people and suicide bombings in Ankara that left 103 dead in October 10.
“We are at a crossroads in the fight against terrorism after the Paris attacks,” Erdogan told a meeting of the Atlantic Council think-tank in Istanbul.
“I strongly condemn the terrorists, who believe in the same religion as me, and I am calling on all leaders of Muslim countries to put up a united front,” he said.
“If not, those who knocked on our door in Ankara, will knock on your door elsewhere, as they did in Paris.”
Erdogan, a pious Muslim whose Justice and Development Party (AKP) spearheaded the rise of political Islam in Turkey, has long angrily dismissed suggestions that Ankara colluded with Daesh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State) in the Syrian civil war.
Turkey has supported rebel groups throughout the over four years of conflict in Syria in the hope they can help oust President Bashar Assad from power.
But Erdogan lashed out at any notion “that all Muslims are terrorists,” saying: “Bad people can be Muslims as well as Christians and Jews.”
“Those who demonize Islam by looking at Daesh are making a big mistake,” he said. “Daesh has nothing to do with Islam.”
With momentum building after the Paris attacks in the long-stalled bid of the world powers to find a solution for Syria, Erdogan made clear Turkey would not budge from its insistence that Assad must leave power.
He accused Assad of supporting Daesh — which is ostensibly fighting the Damascus regime — and buying oil from the group.
“You would be blind not to see it. The chief reason for the humanitarian crisis and the rise of terrorism in the region today is Assad… Assad is waging state terrorism,” said Erdogan.
International efforts to find common ground on Syria have so far been thwarted by disputes with Russia, which has long insisted the Syrian people alone should decide the fate of Assad, a Kremlin ally.
Turkey, however, has argued there can be no solution in Syria unless Assad leaves power.