The orchestrators of violence and looting during US protests against the death of a black man in police custody were working with the Kurdish militia in Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he told US President Donald Trump during a phone call.
Speaking on a live TV program late Monday, Erdoğan also said he gave Trump the names of Gülen followers in the US who participated in the protests.
“The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization,” Trump tweeted on May 31, in an angry response to the street protests and looting that erupted after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
Antifa is a platform for left-wing anti-fascist groups in the US with a growing number of sympathizers since Trump’s election in 2016.
Since Trump’s tweet, Turkey’s official stance on the issue was to link Antifa with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), a US ally in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Ankara considers the YPG an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a decades-long, bloody insurgency in Turkey’s Southeast.
The pro-government media in Turkey have been trying to target Gülen followers who were seen at the US protests.
NBA star Enes Kanter in his Celtics shirt attended a protest in Boston, showing his support for the cause. Meanwhile, a US-based journalist in exile, Adem Yavuz Arslan, reported on YouTube about the protests near the White House last week.
“I reported [the Gülen followers] who attended the protests to [Trump],” Erdoğan said, adding that the US president took notes.
The Erdoğan government accuses the Gülen movement of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt despite its strong denial of any involvement.
The government has made several attempts to extradite Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Islamic cleric leading the movement, from the US, but its efforts have thus far been rejected by the US Department of Justice.