Saturday, July 26, 2014

Israeli official: Erdogan's remarks "sick"

Ilhan Tanir

For the first time an Israeli official responded Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's attacks on Israel.
PM Erdogan, first accused Israel for committing genocide. Later on, he evoked Hitler and stated, several times that what the Israeli government does to the Palestinian people exceed what Hitler did to them (Jews) in barbarity.

Speaking at a political re-election rally in the Turkish city of Ordu, Turkey’s prime minister said that Israel has “surpassed what Hitler did to them” and declared the country a “terrorist state.”
“[Israelis] have no conscience, no honor, no pride. Those who condemn Hitler day and night have surpassed Hitler in barbarism,” said Erdo─čan. He accused Israel of rejecting ceasefires that Hamas has proposed and “spitting death, spitting blood.”
When asked about PM Erdogan’s rhetoric, comparing Israel to Hitler, and accusing it as committing a genocide, an Israeli official in Washington, on Friday morning, said:
“Outrage! I see it with an outrage. I hear the word genocide. There must be some limits, for a person who calls himself as a leader of a state.. a leader of great people and civilization. But for a leader to accuse Israel with Nazism?
900K people killed in Ruanda, that’s a genocide. What happened in Darfur is a genocide.

Now we deal with Nazists: Nazi Germany was killing 10 thousand Jew a day, exterminating them everyday in 1944. And now the leader of Turkey accuses my country as worse than Nazis? How sick is that? How sick is that? And where is the outrage of the world when you make these kind of statements? This is unacceptable for a responsible leader in the international diplomacy. Totally unacceptable. There have to be some limits. And apparently with him (Erdogan), there is no limits, at least none rhetorically."

Monday, July 21, 2014

US Spox responds Erdogan: Daily Press Briefing on Turkey

Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 21, 2014

Spox is Responding to Erdogan's Remarks on Israel

QUESTION: On Friday we talked about – Jen was asked about comments made by the Turkish prime minister --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- which were – she described as offensive.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: I’m wondering if --
MS. HARF: I would agree.
QUESTION: I’m wondering if Prime Minister Erdogan, from the Administration’s point of view, is just no longer a viable interlocutor as it relates to Israel or as it relates to larger things.
MS. HARF: Well, we certainly believe that comments like these undercut Turkey’s ability to effectively influence the situation. I completely agree with what Jen said about how offensive and awful these comments were, and that they quite frankly hurt Turkey’s international standing. We will continue working with Turkey on a number of issues, but comments like these really have no place in this discussion.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: But when you say that you’re – in response to Roz you say that you’re looking for everyone who has some influence with Hamas, and I think that --
MS. HARF: Well, they should certainly use it. You can use your influence --
QUESTION: Okay. So they haven’t --
MS. HARF: -- with Hamas without saying horribly offensive things.
QUESTION: I just want to – fair enough.
MS. HARF: Right.
QUESTION: I just wanted to make sure that you weren’t --
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- saying that the Turks had forfeited their --
MS. HARF: No, not at all.
QUESTION: -- good position.
MS. HARF: Not at all. But --
QUESTION: Can I follow up?
MS. HARF: You can, yes.
QUESTION: Prime Minister Erdogan actually gave interview just yesterday responding to your Administration. He said that if America is still saying that Israel is using – it has right to self-defense, then it should be critical of itself; it’s America who is offensive.
MS. HARF: I don’t think I have any response to that. His comments were offensive in their own right, period, full stop. There’s no excuse for them.
QUESTION: I have --
MS. HARF: There’s no justification for them at all.
QUESTION: I have one more question. Prime minister again ask your Administration and it is that – what is it to you, America, what you got to do with Hitler when some Americans say – this is quote, still – some Americans say, why Mr. Prime Minister make such comparison with Hitler? What is it to you?
MS. HARF: Why do we care when foreign leaders make horribly anti-Israeli comments and offensive comments?
MS. HARF: I think it matters to everyone. I think that there’s no place in international dialogue for those kinds of comments, period. And that we stand up and are very clear in saying that when people do say those kind of things – and again, it only hurts Turkey’s standing in the world, only hurt’s their ability to influence events when they say things like that.

Turkey-US Relations

QUESTION: I have one more on Turkey.
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: Actually, two. According to Israeli press, during the phone conversation between the Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary Kerry, Prime Minister Netanyahu complained about Turkish prime minister rhetoric over Gaza.
MS. HARF: I’m happy to check. I don’t know the answer to that for you, and I probably wouldn’t discuss it even if I did, given we don’t discuss private conversations. But I’m happy to check.
QUESTION: Do you still – this is my final question.
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: Do you still think the U.S. and Turkey relations are a model partnership?
MS. HARF: You ask this once a week, and I think I always have the same answer for you. Turkey’s a NATO ally. They’re a close partner on a number of issues. We also make very clear when there are things we do not agree with.
QUESTION: So my question is --
MS. HARF: You said that with the last one.
QUESTION: But you didn’t answer. President Obama --
MS. HARF: I think I just answered it.
QUESTION: President Obama described this relationship as model partnership. My question is: Would you still describe the same partnership --
MS. HARF: Turkey is a very close NATO ally. We work together on a number of issues. When we have disagreements, we make those clear as well.

Turkish Diplomat Hostages - Mosul
QUESTION: Can I go back to Mosul for a second?
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Is there any update about the hostages, Turkish diplomats?
MS. HARF: I have no update on that.
QUESTION: So no update means that you are talking to Turkish authorities, but --
MS. HARF: So no update on that. I don’t have any information on that for you at the moment.

New Iraqi President, Speaker

QUESTION: And on Iraq, I think they are now trying to elect new president.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any --
MS. HARF: So we did congratulate the Iraqis on the election of their parliamentary speaker and deputies. We know that the new speaker has scheduled the next session for this Wednesday to discuss nominees for the presidency. The next step is to nominate and vote on a president, and then of course a prime minister after that, which we’ve said should happen as soon as possible. Once a president is elected, they have up to 15 days to nominate a prime minister. So obviously, we think this should happen as soon as possible.
QUESTION: Do you have any candidate to endorse in --
MS. HARF: I have repeatedly said we do not support any one candidate or any one party. We need an inclusive government as soon as possible.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Readout of the Vice President's Call with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan

Office of the Vice President
June 13, 2014

Readout of the Vice President's Call with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan

The Vice President spoke today with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to follow up on their June 11 conversation.  The Vice President and Prime Minister discussed the danger to regional and international security posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).  They agreed on the urgent need to unite Iraqis and their leaders against this common threat and discussed the political and security challenges.  The Vice President reiterated U.S. support for Turkey’s efforts to bring about the safe return of its citizens.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Readout of the Vice President's Call with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan

Office of the Vice President
June 11, 2014

Readout of the Vice President's Call with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan

The Vice President spoke today with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan regarding the security situation around Mosul, Iraq, where elements of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have taken over significant portions of the city, seized the Turkish consulate, and taken Turkish personnel -- including the Consul General and family members -- hostage. The Vice President underscored the United States condemns the actions taken by ISIL, calls for the safe and immediate return of the Turkish personnel and family members, and supports efforts by Iraqi national and Kurdish security forces to work together to combat the ISIL threat. The Vice President told Prime Minister Erdogan that the United States is prepared to support Turkey’s efforts to bring about the safe return of its citizens and will stay in close touch with the Turkish and Iraqi governments regarding a resolution to the security situation. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Qs & As w/State Dept Spox Turkey, Iran, Iraq, KRG, Syria

Daily Press Briefing Index
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
1:36 p.m. EDT
Briefer: Jen Psaki, Spokesperson


MS. PSAKI:  Iran?  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  Just following up, President Rouhani was in Turkey yesterday, and Turkey and Iran signed 10 MOUs yesterday.  So was wondering if you see these MOUs – first of all, they are coordinated with the White House or Treasury or State Department?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, we have a close dialogue with Turkey on a range of issues, including Iran.  We share a common goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  I would refer you to them for more information, and I’m sure you’re in touch with them.  I would, though, remind you that Turkey has publicly committed to abide by all of its – all relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and that remains our understanding.

QUESTION:  So is it – today – yesterday, they stated, the leaders of the countries, that they want to double the value of bilateral trade to $30 billion by next year.  Do you see these goals within the line of the sanction regime?

MS. PSAKI:  Well again, I think our policy is well known on Iran, and that is that we have made clear to a range of countries and the private sector that it’s best to avoid activity that may be sanctionable or under U.S. or international sanctions.  I’m not going to speculate on what may happen or not happen depending on where we are with the negotiations.

QUESTION:  During the visit, these two countries again find this partnership is strategic and they created this new council.  It is the Iran-Turkey Strategic High Cooperation Council is a milestone.  How do you view this strategic partnership between these two countries?

MS. PSAKI:  I really don’t know that I have any more to add than I’ve just stated.

QUESTION:  And the late – the last question:  Has the United States received any clarification on the reported 87 billion euros in Iran sanction-busting from the Turkish businesses?  These have been discussed in Turkish press for a number of months now.  I was wondering if you have any view on those.

MS. PSAKI:  I don’t have any other details or update to share with all of you.

QUESTION:  One more on Turkey?

MS. PSAKI:  Turkey?  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  Yes.  This Kurdish – Iraq-Kurdish oil tankers – today, second one left Turkish port, and the other one is, I think – I don’t know whether it already sold.  Do you have any comment on those tankers?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, our position, obviously, here has been clear and longstanding in that we don’t support the export or sale of oil, absent the appropriate approval of the Federal Iraqi Government.  And as you know, this exposes those who are undergoing this effort to potentially serious legal risks.  I’ve seen those reports.  Again, we have the same concerns we’ve had with previous reports of another – of the other ship.

QUESTION:  So these two tankers right now in the international seas, as far as we know, are you coordinating with other countries not to buy this oil tankers, or are you doing anything to prevent this?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, our position – as we’ve stated our position many, many times, I think it’s pretty clear to the international community and the private sector, and obviously they’ll make their own decisions. 


QUESTION:  And one on Syria, if I may.  Today, former Ambassador Ford wrote a piece on New York Times, and one of the points he was making that the U.S. should give far greater material support and training to Free Syrian Army.  Are you considering this option any time soon?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, let me say that we’ve been providing political, financial, and other support to the opposition for some time.  As you know, we expanded the scale and scope of our aid and assistance last year, and we are continuing to increase our assistance to the opposition, including vetted members of the armed opposition.  And the President spoke to this during his speech just last week. 

I would also note that in the Secretary’s interview with CNN just a couple of days ago, and on other occasions in this briefing room and others, we’ve indicated a support for the Levin language in the NDAA, which would provide the authority to the Department of Defense to train and arm.  And so I would point you to that.  We continue to work with Congress on that, but I think the Administration has been clear about our commitment to increasing our support.

QUESTION:  So we cannot imagine the ambassador already knows all these efforts.  What he wants is far greater support, something that dramatically different than U.S. already has been doing.  And my question is that:  Do you have any reconsideration to change dramatically?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, again, Ambassador Ford, who I was – had the pleasure of working with for a year while he was here and while I was here, and he’s an incredible diplomat and gave an incredible decades of service to this and many other issues.  But there is a difference between being a private citizen and being within the government, and a great deal has changed.  Conversations have changed.  Efforts have increased since he left the government.

QUESTION:  Well, it does seem as if Ambassador Ford – Secretary Clinton makes clear in her – former Secretary Clinton makes clear in her book, and I think it’s been pretty widely reported and in fact acknowledged, that Secretary Kerry was an early proponent of arming the rebels to change President Assad’s calculus.  And it does seem as if like two years later, the Administration has finally come around to that point of view.  And it seems as if like a lot of bloodshed could’ve been maybe prevented, and the situation that you now find yourself on the ground in Syria could maybe not be as grave had the Administration come around to this point of view two years ago.

MS. PSAKI:  Well, we’ve continued to increase the support and the kind of support we’re providing long before the President’s speech just a week ago.  So obviously I can’t outline the details of that, but this has been an ongoing discussion within the Administration.  We’re continuing to increase our support.  As you know, there have been a range of factors that have impacted the situation on the ground that have contributed to decision-making, whether that’s the influx of foreign fighters or the assistance of Iran and Hezbollah; whether that is our efforts to pursue a diplomatic path or efforts to increase the unity and the strength of the opposition.  Those are all factors that were taken into account in our decision-making.

QUESTION:  You mentioned the vetting of the opposition.  How do you vet the opposition?  I mean, these rebels are known to switch alliances all the time.  Some of them may end up with ISIL, for instance.  How do you vet them to ensure that they are actually – whatever aid you give stays with the vetted opposition?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, I can assure you, Said, I’m not going to outline that for you here, but this is one of the most important factors that we have – the Secretary has weighed in with his international counterparts on, that we have made a priority as it relates to international assistance, because we believe that the assistance should go through and needs to go through the moderate opposition.  And the number of times we’ve talked about that and raised that as an issue on the agenda speaks to our commitment to doing that in the best way possible.

QUESTION:  So you agree that sending any arms may in fact exacerbate violence instead of stemming violence?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, you know where we stand, that we don’t feel that there is a military solution here.  But again, I just outlined – I just reminded you that we have increased our assistance over time.  We have been supportive of the language in the Levin Amendment – the Levin language in the NDAA, and we will see where we go from here.

QUESTION:  But in your statement about ISIL and the attacks in Mosul, you said that they’re – ISIL gained from the situation in Syria.  So is there any regret here looking back that if things had been different in Syria, you wouldn’t have this problem in Iraq and potentially getting bigger throughout the Middle East?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, I would say, Lucas, that there are a range of factors that have contributed to where we are in Syria today, and they include the ones I just outlined:  the influx of foreign fighters, the engagement of Iran and others, the need to strengthen the opposition.  We are where we are now.  We’re taking steps to increase our assistance.  We’re – the moderate opposition had a great trip to Washington, and we’ll go from here.

QUESTION:  But no regrets looking back?

MS. PSAKI:  I’m not going to entertain or bat that around, Lucas.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

State Dept. Spox Marie Harf on Ivan Watson's being undercover agent

Daily Press Briefing Index
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
2:24 p.m. EDT
Briefer: Marie Harf, Deputy Spokesperson
QUESTION:  Turkey. 

MS. HARF:  Uh-huh.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  I got quick couple questions.  One is that there were protests over the weekend for the anniversary of Gezi protests and the security forces respond to them.  Do you have any comment on that?

MS. HARF:  Let me see what I have on that.  I think probably not anything else than Jen said yesterday.  Closely monitored events over the weekend.  We are concerned in some instances authorities detained peaceful protesters and prevented others from participating in peaceful demonstrations as well.

QUESTION:  Today, Prime Minister Erdogan, referencing CNN International’s Chief Turkey Correspondent Ivan Watson, he said that those don’t have anything to do with independent and impartial media.  They have been given tasks.  They are agents.  Do you have undercover agents in Turkey?

MS. HARF:  I can let CNN – Elise defend CNN if she wants to.  I would say that they’re nothing except for independent and non-biased media.  Look, we strongly support freedom of the press in Turkey, including Ivan Watson from CNN being able to report, and have continued to raise our concerns.

QUESTION:  So apparently Prime Minister Erdogan, leader of country accusing that he’s an undercover agent.

MS. HARF:  It’s a ridiculous accusation.

QUESTION:  On India?

QUESTION:  (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF:  Let’s go to Lucas and then – on India – then Scott.  Elise, anything else on CNN?  No?

QUESTION:  I have nothing for you on that.  (Laughter.) 

QUESTION:  Love it, Elise. 

MS. HARF:  Will you take the question, though?

Full transcript:

Friday, May 23, 2014


Daily Press Briefing Index
Friday, May 23, 2014
1:17 p.m. EDT
Briefer: Marie Harf, Deputy Spokesperson

Urge all sides to exercise restraint and avoid violence 
QUESTION:  Okay.  On Turkey, again, yesterday – first of all, since yesterday, there have been protests and two people already died in this protests.  And they are going on tonight, as well.  Do you have any comment on this?  Have you seen?

MS. HARF:  Well, yeah, we’re closely following the reports of what’s happening.  Obviously, very saddened by the loss of life that we’ve seen and urge all sides to exercise restraint and avoid violence as they participate in these protests or in terms of the response.

QUESTION:  So today, Amnesty International released a statement regarding these two killings, and according to reports – according to Amnesty International, one of them died with teargas canister in his right eye and the other one was with live ammunition.  Yesterday, I asked this question whether U.S. is reassessing its policy selling riot control equipment, such as teargas, to Turkey.  And Jen stated that there are certain standards that should be held. 

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.  And that they’re a NATO ally as well, obviously, which plays into some of this.  And to my knowledge, I don’t know if people are reassessing this.  I am happy to check with our folks and see.

QUESTION:  Turkey?  Just one question following up from yesterday.  I ask about Kurdistan Regional Government’s oil to Turkey and (inaudible) to world market. 

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  Today, the Baghdad government – Maliki government reacted this shipment.  And Jen said yesterday that the U.S. will talk to officials in Turkey.

MS. HARF:  Uh-huh.

QUESTION:  Do you have any follow-up on this?

MS. HARF:  Well, as I think she said yesterday – but look, what needs to happen here is that the parties need to come back to the table and talk about getting an agreement in place and that no one should take any steps until there’s an agreement in place.  So obviously we’ve seen some steps being taken separate from that, and we would not support that.  We’ve been very clear about that for a long time.

I don’t have specifics in terms of who we’ve talked to about this issue, but I know we’ve raised it.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Another question:  Just yesterday, an Istanbul prosecutor is now seeking 52 years prison for a journalist who published classified documents of the government.  Do you think it’s enough, or --

MS. HARF:  I don’t think I have any comment on those reports.

QUESTION:  You have not seen these reports?

MS. HARF:  I don’t have any comment on those reports.  I’ve seen them; I just don’t have any comment for you.


MS. HARF:  Thank you.