Turkey's Erdogan Suggests Belgium's Double Standard on Terror to Blame for Brussels Attacks

Comments from Turkish president seem to accuse Belgium of inviting attacks by failing to condemn Kurdish PKK on equal ground with ISIS.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. AFP

REUTERS - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan condemned the Belgian government of being "incapable" on Friday, suggesting that contradicting sentiments regarding various militant organizations were to blame for Islamic State suicide bombings in Brussels, the latest of which killed at least 31 and wounded 260 others.

Erdogan has repeatedly equated the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is waging an insurgency in Turkey's southeast, with Islamic State, saying both are terrorist organizations. In his comments on Friday, Erodgan accused Belgium of maintaining a double standard in fighting ISIS while failing to condemn the PKK.

"They (the Belgians) are allowing members of the separatist terrorist organization to set up tents right next to the European Council, they allow pictures of terrorists to be displayed, they let their flags fly there," Erdogan said.

"So, what happened? What happened, just two days later?," he went on, before condemning European authorities for releasing Ibrahim El Bakraoui, one of two brothers named by Belgium as responsible for Tuesday's attacks in Brussels, following his deportation from Turkey.

Erdogan, still smarting from the presence of pro-Kurdish militant protesters near an EU-Turkey summit in Brussels this month, said European authorities had shown themselves "incapable" after Turkey deported one of the Brussels attackers last July but he was subsequently released

"Such incapable governments ... We detained this guy in Gaziantep, we deported him, sent him back. Those gentlemen didn't do what was necessary and released the terrorist," Erdogan said in a speech in the central Turkish town of Sorgun. 

"My brothers, terrorism is not the problem of a single country, it's the whole world's problem. God willing they'll understand that," he said. 

Erdogan said on Wednesday that Belgium had ignored a warning that Bakraoui was a militant

But Bakraoui was deported to the Netherlands, which said it did not realize he was a dangerous suspect as Turkey had failed to follow normal procedures when expelling him. 

Dutch authorities on Thursday released a copy of a note from the Turkish foreign ministry, dated July 14, 2015, informing them of Bakraoui's deportation and flight details, but making no mention of the reasons for his expulsion or of his suspected links to militants. 

Belgium's interior and justice ministers offered to resign on Thursday over the failure to track Bakraoui, but Prime Minister Charles Michel asked them to stay on. 

Bakraoui blew himself up at Brussels airport on Tuesday. 

Turkey has itself faced criticism for failing to do more to stop the flow of foreign fighters, estimated to be in their thousands, who have crossed its territory to join the ranks of Islamic State in neighboring Syria and Iraq.