New US Administration Must Extradite Gulen: Ex-US Lawmaker

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Ex-US congressman says this is needed to reset relations with NATO ally Turkey.

A reset of Turkish-U.S. relations under incoming President Donald Trump should be a priority, including the much-delayed extradition of the leader of FETO, the terrorist group blamed for this summer’s defeated coup in Turkey, according to a former U.S. lawmaker.

“The United States and Turkey must find a solution to address the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) problem,” wrote former Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg in a guest op-ed published Friday by The Hill.

Ankara accuses FETO leader Fetullah Gulen, who has been living in the U.S. since 1999, of leading the July 15, 2016 coup plot, which left at least 248 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Stressing that FETO has “a track record” of trying to destabilize Turkey and attack its own citizens by any means necessary, Rehberg argued that unless Gulen is extradited, “FETO will continue to pose a real threat” to Turkey and its allies, including the U.S.

The U.S. and Trump have a responsibility to help keep Turkey stable and work together with Turkey and its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by extraditing Gulen, he argued.

He accused the U.S. of not having taken any steps or actions toward Gulen’s extradition. Since July 19, Turkey has been officially asking the U.S. to extradite Gulen.

For months, the U.S. has been reviewing documents that Turkey sent based on a 1979 extradition treaty between Ankara and Washington.

“Nothing has been done despite Turkey’s ongoing official requests, the Turkish Justice Ministry sending various files and evidence of Gulen’s crimes, and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag visit to Washington, D.C. to meet with U.S. Attorney General Lynch in efforts to expedite Gulen’s extradition last October,” Rehberg wrote.

Facing terrorism as partners

On Turkish-U.S. ties in general, he wrote, “The hope is that President Trump and his officials will cultivate more closely a diplomatic relationship with Turkish President Erdogan than President Obama had left fallow over the past eight years,”

Calling ties with Turkey “critical to regional security and the management of regional crises” as Ankara is a key NATO ally for the U.S., Rehberg said the ongoing conflict at Turkey’s borders is a significant international security issues.

He added that rising tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia has added more complexity, regional instability, and uncertainty to the conflict as well as that the Russia’s influence in the region continues to expand.

“In order to defeat our enemies and ensure regional stability, Turkey and the United States must stand side-by-side and face terrorism head-on – as partners,” Rehberg stated.

The former congressman also stressed that the 50-year-plus U.S-Turkish relations have never been as “critical” and “pivotal” as today, especially in the fight against Daesh and other terrorist groups at large.

According to Rehberg, both countries have cooperated in several anti-terrorism projects since 2011, such as co-chairing the Global Counter-terrorism Forum (GCTF) to help combat the rise of extremism.

Rehberg served as congressman for the western U.S. state of Montana from 2001 to 2013.

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