The US failure to extradite Fethullah Gulen, the alleged mastermind of the failed overthrow of the Erdogan government, is "destroying" Turkish-American relationships said Turkey’s Prime Minister in another bout of incendiary rhetoric ahead of Vice President Joe Biden’s official visit regarding the matter.
“Nothing is the same after July 15,” said Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Saturday. "America knows this, and we know they know it" before describing relations between the two countries as "so-so."
Vice President Joe Biden is slated to visit Turkey on Wednesday after the US has repeatedly denied the continued requests of the Turkish government, a longstanding and critical NATO ally, that the Obama administration clear extradition of the Islamic cleric who resides in exile in Pennsylvania.
The comments by the Turkish Prime Minister follow a statement on Saturday confirming that Ankara may invite Russia to fly out of Incirlik Air Base to undertake airstrikes against the Daesh (or ISIS) terror network in Syria. The critical NATO air base was built by the US government which houses at least 50 tactical B-61 nuclear warheads with the explosive force of 100 times the Hiroshima bomb.
The Air Base serves as the main facility out of which US and Coalition jets fly out of to engage the fight in Syria, a battle at which the United States and Russia at times find themselves on different sides of.
The US supports both Kurdish forces and "moderate rebel" groups who appear to have fallen in with the not so moderate al-Nusra (an al-Qaeda affiliate until a recent rebranding) and Ahrar al-Sham terrorist groups under the banner of the “Army of Conquest.” Russia has provided air support to the Syrian Arab Army loyal to the Assad regime, which the United States has been adamant, should not be part of a transition.
Turkey’s appraisal of their allies appears to have shifted more dramatically in the wake of the coup than the State Department insists, however. The country has normalized ties with Russia, endorsed the concept that Assad could play a role in the transition (albeit temporarily), and top officials have repeatedly insinuated if not outright said that the US played a role in the failed coup.
Turkish President Erdogan said at one point that Gulen was "only a pawn" alluding to a more powerful entity that many took to be the United States only a day after accusing a top US general of siding with the coup plotters meanwhile the leading pro-Erdogan newspaper published an article titled "The Man Behind the Coup" with the face of another top US General on it while Turkey’s Labor Minister just outright told CNNTurk in an interview “The US was behind the coup.”
Despite the danger of losing a critical ally in Turkey, the State Department remains reticent to cave to the demands of the Erdogan regime calling on the government to provide additional proof before such proceedings could be started. By contrast, it is Turkey’s position that, if the United States or another ally called on them to extradite an individual they would have done so without question.