Turkey slams US for remarks reportedly made by NSA Gen. McMaster

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WASHINGTON, USA - DECEMBER 13: Lt. Gen. Herbert Raymond McMaster, National Security Advisor to President Trump, speaks at the Jamestown Foundation's 11th annual Terrorism Conference at the National Press Club in Washington, United States on December 13, 2017. Samuel Corum / Anadolu Agency

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Wednesday issued a press release criticizing remarks reportedly made by US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster at an event in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, saying that his comments were “astonishing, baseless and unacceptable.”

“It has been learned with regret that the U.S National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster made remarks targeting our country and government during his speech at the meeting organised by a think tank yesterday (12 December) in Washington D.C.

“The allegations made by Mr. McMaster, who is best placed to judge Turkey’s ceaseless combat against terrorism and radicalism in all its forms and manifestations, are astonishing, baseless and unacceptable,” said the statement.

Lt. Gen. McMaster was a speaker at a conference debating “US-UK Relations in a Changing World,” held on Tuesday by British think tank Policy Exchange to kick off a new Anglo-American project, during which he offered a preview of the new US National Security Strategy, to be released on Monday.

However, the foreign ministry appeared to be reacting to a report published by The National, based in Abu Dhabi and owned by International Media Investments FZ LLC, which claimed in a version updated Thursday afternoon that “US national security adviser HR McMaster condemned Qatar and Turkey for taking on a ‘new role’ as the main sponsors and sources of funding for extremist Islamist ideology that targets western interests.”

According to The National, after making reference to Saudi Arabia’s support in the past for organizations that advance radical Islamist ideology such as charities, madrassas and other social organizations, McMaster “singled out Qatar and Turkey as main supporters at present. ‘[It] is now done more by Qatar, and by Turkey,’ he said.”

He also reportedly identified Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) with the Muslim Brotherhood. “By operating through civil society, they consolidate power through one party, sadly it is a problem contributing to Turkey’s drift from the West” he said, according to The National.

The National is based in the United Arab Emirates, which along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar on June 5 over allegations that it funds terrorist groups, an accusation denied by Doha. Turkey has been a strong supporter of Qatar and currently has a military base and troops deployed near the Qatari capital.

The comments as reported by The National could not be confirmed as no transcript or video was made by Policy Exchange of the conference, according to its press office, and no other news agency appears to have directly quoted McMaster as mentioning either Turkey or Qatar as of the time of writing.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry concluded its statement by saying: “We expect the United States, which we continue to recognize as our friend and ally, to display the same stance to our country, to cease all forms of cooperation with terrorist groups such as YPG and provide more concrete and effective support in our ongoing determined fight against terrorism and radicalism in line with our traditional ties of alliance and international legitimacy.”

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