By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The group behind Turkey's bloody defeated coup four years ago "continues to poison" bilateral relations between Washington and Ankara, Turkey's deputy minister of foreign affairs said Wednesday.
Addressing a panel hosted by the Turkish Heritage Organization (THO) nonprofit group, Amb. Yavuz Selim Kiran lamented what he said has been US inaction on the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), calling it a "sinister organization," and urging US officials to act against the Turkey-designated terrorist group.
"As two long-standing NATO allies Turkey and the United States need to preserve the spirit of alliance and solidarity," he said. "Unfortunately, the inaction of the US against FETO even after July 15 still has a negative influence on our relations."
"We also expect cooperation against the financing of terrorism, especially regarding freezing of assets of FETO members in the US," he added, saying Ankara is working with the FBI on the matter.
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated July 15, 2016 coup, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Turkey also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Michael Reynolds, a professor at Princeton University's Department of Near Eastern Studies, said that if the attempted putsch was successful Turkey would have been "a replay of Syria."
"Turkey would have been in a civil war very much like the Syrian civil war, that is a truly destructive one," he said during the THO panel, saying it would have been "a disaster for American foreign policy" that would have had "immense" negative impacts on Turkey neighbors, including Europe.
"The vast majority of Turkey, with good reason, see Gulen as a major threat to the stability of their country," he said, saying his extradition would be "the single biggest thing" the US could do to improve ties with Ankara while acknowledging it, for now, "does not seem likely."