Turkish president accuses European nations of underestimating threat from jihadists.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the West on Wednesday of ignoring his calls for a common stance against jihadist extremism and not sharing intelligence on the threat they pose.
“We were left alone by Western countries. Our intelligence-sharing expectations were never met,” Erdogan said in an interview with CNN, which aired excerpts. “We have been calling the nations for a common stance against terrorism, and many of the European member states seem to have failed to attach the significance that this call for action deserves,” he added.
Erdogan, who is in Washington for a nuclear security summit, was particularly critical of Belgium for not acting on information Ankara had provided about one of the bombers in last week’s attacks in Brussels, Ibrahim El Bakraoui.
Turkey arrested the Belgian national near the Syrian border last June and deported him to the Netherlands. Bakrouai managed to make it back to Brussels, where he blew himself up at the airport during the March 22 attacks. His brother Khalid blew himself up at a Brussels metro station.
“The Netherlands nor the Belgians seem to have understood what the jihadis stand for,” Erdogan said.
On Tuesday, Dutch Justice Minister Ard van der Steur said the Netherlands had notified Belgium a week before the Brussels attacks of an FBI report on the Bakraoui brothers’ radical backgrounds. Ibrahim El Bakraoui had been on a U.S. terror watch list since Sept. 25, 2015, he said.
The United States has long seen Turkey as a key Muslim ally and a moderating force in the Middle East. But the two have been at odds over Syria in recent months, with Washington calling on Ankara to do more to fight Islamic State group jihadists.
Turkey, for its part, has been upset by U.S. support for Kurdish fighters in Syria, fearing it will strengthen Kurdish separatists in Turkey.