Turkey should be a top priority in US foreign policy, a top adviser to President-elect Donald Trump said on Wednesday, as he slammed President Barack Obama for failing to understand Ankara's geopolitical position.
Retired General Michael Flynn was a key national security adviser to Trump during his presidential campaign and is expected by many to be appointed to a cabinet position in a time when relations between Turkey and the US have reached a low point.
"We must begin with understanding that Turkey is vital to US interests," Flynn wrote for The Hill newspaper. He also called Turkey "a source of stability in the region".
The veteran general wrote that it was "an unwise policy" for the Obama administration to keep Ankara at arm's length.
Noting the extradition request by Turkey of Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO) leader Fetullah Gulen as one of the key points of contention between Washington and Ankara, Flynn suggests that the US hand over Gulen.
Ankara has asked Washington to extradite Gulen for his role in establishing a quasi-state within Turkey that led to a failed bloody coup on July 15 of this year.
"What would we have done if right after 9/11 we heard the news that Osama bin Laden lives in a nice villa at a Turkish resort while running 160 charter schools funded by the Turkish taxpayers?" Flynn said.
The former chair of the Defence Intelligence Agency suggested that although Gulen presents himself as a moderate Islamic scholar, he is a radical who "has publicly boasted about his ‘soldiers' waiting for his orders to do whatever he directs them to do."
Flynn compared Gulen to the Ayatollah Khomeini -- the leader of the Iranian revolution – urging the US government not to repeat its mistake by supporting Gulen as it did Khomeini.
"Washington's silence on this explosive topic speaks volumes when we hear the incredulous claim that the democratically elected president of Turkey staged a military coup, bombed his own parliament and undermined the confidence in Turkey's strong economy, just so that he could purge his political opponents," he said.
Flynn also cited allegations of corruption against the Gulen network in the US, saying the terror leader has brought more people than Google into the country to teach English but they are not fluent in the language.