Turkey and the United States have been NATO Allies for almost 70 years.
The partnership is based on mutual interests and respect and is focused on areas such as regional security and stability, economic cooperation, and human rights progress.
The United States also stands in solidarity with Turkey in the fight against terrorism. Counter terrorism cooperation is a key element of our strategic partnership.
It is precisely because our countries are united in combatting the threat from terrorism that the United States recently voiced its strong objection to Turkish
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosting two Hamas leaders in Istanbul on August 22. As State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus noted in a written statement, “Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the EU, and both officials hosted by President Erdogan are Specially Designated Global Terrorists.”
Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and to the creation of an Islamic state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Its targets are often civilians, and its weapons include missiles, suicide bombs, knives, and terror tunnels.
Ismail Haniyeh, a senior political leader of Hamas, is one of the men President Erdogan met with in Istanbul. When Haniyeh was added to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists in 2018, the State Department called him a key terrorist leader who is “threatening the stability of the Middle East, undermining the peace process, and attacking our allies Egypt and Israel.”
The second individual President Erdogan hosted is Hamas deputy chief Salih al-Aruri. Al-Aruri has been linked to several terrorist attacks, hijackings and kidnappings. He was the person who announced Hamas’ responsibility for the 2014 terrorist attack that kidnapped and killed three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, and he praised the murders as a “heroic operation.” The United States Rewards for Justice Program is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest.
As State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus noted, the August meeting was the second time President Erdogan welcomed Hamas leadership to Turkey this year. “President Erdogan’s continued outreach to this terrorist organization,” she said, “only serves to isolate Turkey from the international community, harms the interests of the Palestinian people, and undercuts global efforts to prevent terrorist attacks launched from Gaza. We continue to raise our concerns about the Turkish government’s relationship with Hamas at the highest levels.”