Truth Squad: NATO ally ruled by 'Islamic terrorists?'
Photo: AFP/Getty Images
January 17th, 2012
06:11 AM ET

Truth Squad: NATO ally ruled by 'Islamic terrorists?'

By Matt Smith

Editor's note: Part of the CNN Republican debate fact-checking series

(CNN) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry was asked if Turkey should remain within the NATO alliance, during Monday night's Republican presidential debate.

The statement: "Obviously when you have a country that is being ruled by, what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists, when you start seeing that type of activity against their own citizens, then yes - not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong to be in NATO, but it's time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it." - Perry, during Monday night's Fox News-Wall Street Journal debate. Perry went on to put Turkey in the same league as neighboring Syria and Iran, warning that the United States needs to show Ankara "that we're going to have to be dealt with."

The facts:

Turkey is not ruled by "Islamic terrorists." It is led by a party with Islamist roots, the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, which has ruled Turkey since 2002.

Its leader, Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan, was once jailed for reading an Islamic poem in public in a country where the ruling establishment has long enforced a strict secularism. But Erdogan said the AKP was formed in an effort to create a new, centrist force in Turkish society.

The AKP's history and its appeal to religious supporters have unnerved many voters, but Turkey's economy prospered under its rule. Erdogan won a third term in June and appeared to come out on top of a confrontation with the country's powerful military, which staged coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980.

Ankara has maintained good relations with both its NATO allies and Iran, now the subject of intense international pressure to halt its nuclear fuel program. It refused to assist the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, its southern neighbor, in 2003. But Turkish commanders have led NATO's peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan four times since that war began in 2001.

In November, Erdogan has called on embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, Iran's leading ally, to step down in the face of a 10-month-old revolt. He warned that al-Assad risked the same fate as slain Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi if he continued trying to crush his opposition.

The verdict: False. Perry is taking a broad swing at an ally he says is "moving far away" from an alliance with the United States and with Israel, which has seen ties with Ankara strained over a 2010 raid on a Turkish aid ship that attempted to run the Israeli blockade of Gaza. But the facts aren't in his corner.

Filed under: Asia • Politics • Security Brief • Turkey
soundoff (24 Responses)
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  6. Po

    In 2010, Erdogan said he would forcibly remove Armenians from Turkey if the world recognized the Armenian genocide. Is that not the definition of terrorism?

    January 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Reply
    • Popolopos Kikeriki

      Erdogan made this comment when he was speaking about the 100.000 illegal Armenians that crossed the border after the collaps of the Soviet Union.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:54 am | Reply
  7. repulsewarrior

    Turkey is an ally of the USA, Erdogan is not.

    January 17, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Reply
  8. MP

    When Ted Koppel asked Newt Gingrich last night why somebody who owns a lot of Casino has paid $5000,000 to his campaign through Super Pac , his answer was because I am Pro-Israel. can somebody tell me why Israel is soooo important to sooooo many with the money in the US and why are they the one making decision who will be elected in to the office in the United State of America.Monies are being spend, assassinations are being made,.... all to protect a country as small as Israel against a country that if you read the history has never attacked any other country and always been attacked by others in the past 2500 years. a lot of WHY has to be answered. and some of us by reading History carefully may know the answer including my best friend a survivor of holocaust who does not like most everything Israel is doing.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  9. FudgePaki

    All Towel Heads are terrorists.

    January 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Reply
  10. mipolitic

    facts are not present in this above story. the first fact is that turkey has and will continue to have an accusing finger pointed at israel and support actions against israels defensive messures that secures its boarders. turkey does not recognize the sovereign boarders.of israel, also turkey will fail to stand against the tyranny of iran if iran gets nukes. turkey recieves big bucks from the usa for its co-operation with the us military , but this will quickly fade when iran gets nukes.

    January 17, 2012 at 10:52 am | Reply
    • Bernard

      "turkey does not recognize the sovereign boarders.of israel," Turkey recognized Israel's sovereignty in 1948.
      "turkey recieves big bucks from the usa' Turkey doesn't get any aid as the Cold War has ended in 1991.

      conclusion: you deserve Perry.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:10 am | Reply
      • Kevin

        Bernard, Turkey does receive funding from the US. They just installed part of the radar defense net in Turkey. We paid for it and they get to man it and operate it with very little oversight. Turkey recognized Israel in 1949, not '48. While they have recognized their State of Israel, they also host a Hamas command post and recruiting station inside Turkey and regularly insult and threaten Israel with war. You only have to remember the illegal flotilla that attempted to break the UN recognized blockade around Gaza to see their attitude towards war with Israel. They promote baseless ideas on TV, showing Israelis shooting Arab men, women and children (Ayrilik soap opera) and Israeli agents kidnapping babies (Valley of the Wolves). These are real facts that you can verify.

        January 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Truong

      So let me get this straight – Because Turkey refuses to kneel before Israel, Turkey is a terrorist Muslim state? Right. Unfortunately, I feel like these pro-Israeli radicals are the ones who will ultimately lead to the collapse of Israel, not Muslims, homosexuals, towel heads, or whatever it is you like to call them.

      January 18, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  11. Sinan

    More bizarre than Perry’s answer was that such an inane question was asked by the Fox news moderator. There is an unfortunate strain in some American political thought where any criticism of any Israeli policy by a Muslim-majority country is by definition akin to Islamic/Islamist terrorism.

    January 17, 2012 at 10:35 am | Reply
  12. Jonathan Pollard, zionist American Traitor ha-ha I'm soon to be free!

    Perry is a zoinist bitch. Plain and simple.

    Now the zionist new world order masters are focusing in on Turkey.

    Turkey will whoop America in any war.

    I say come on WW3 Baby!

    Let's get it over with – and when it's done and 3/4 of the world's population will be nuked – it will be over for the dirty evil devil worshiping zionists in israel – because israel will be wiped off the planet and all, and I mean ALL, surviving zionist dogs will be hunted down and given what they deserve!

    No more israel – no more evil from the zionists – sadly no more America, but it will be the price to pay for the this new war.

    What Turkey do? It demanded the release of the 1.7 million Palestinians who are trapped by the dirty evil zionists in Gaza. The evil zionists are the new Nazis of the 21st century. It is so clear what they want – through asshole traitors like Perry, Obama, and the frigging Congress – Thank you AIPAC – lying spying faggots! – We Americans are only cattle to the zionists – who with their worthless paper money, they think through greed they can get what they want – with the assistance of the stupid dick head evangalical christian supporters here in America, they do what they want.

    Let's get it over with. like I said in the end there will be no more zionism and MO MORE EVIL israel!!!!

    Yippppppppppppeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee . . . . and no more friggin CNN, too!


    January 17, 2012 at 8:56 am | Reply
    • peres

      You are stupid donkey barbarian.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • Bobby

      You mixed up your Prozac with your skittles again.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:43 am | Reply
    • C.Brown

      HAHAHA I served with Turkish troops in Kosovo and trained with them on the island of Sardinia so I laugh at the notion that they could defeat the U.S. in a war. First of all the Turkish use WW2 era small arms, have by far the worse urban combat tactics I had ever seen in my life and when we had a Turkish ship suppress a target with Naval gunfire the Turkish ship missed the entire island and hit the sea. I think someone is talking out of there you know what and doesn't know crap about the U.S. military or any foreign military for that matter

      January 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  13. Alison

    Too unfortunate for such a loyal european ally. Now I'm persuaded clowns do exist.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:36 am | Reply
  14. reality

    America is controlled by liars.

    January 17, 2012 at 7:29 am | Reply

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