Senior Turkish officials have rejected allegations made by former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in his new book, “Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love,” branding them as lies and misinformation and claiming that he is using them in an attempt to propel himself to the presidency, Middle East Eye reported.
In the book released on Tuesday, Pompeo claims that in 2019 he attempted to “break through” a locked door in Ankara’s presidential complex to reach then-vice president Mike Pence, who was having a longer than expected meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Pompeo wrote that the Trump administration in October 2019 convinced Erdoğan to sign a ceasefire deal in northern Syria following a Turkish military operation to seize areas formerly controlled by the US military.
According to Pompeo, Pence spent 50 minutes with Erdoğan alone at the presidential palace, prompting the secretary of state to try and force his way into the room they were meeting in.
Pompeo’s effort to break down the door scared his security team, who thought Turkish guards would react aggressively, he wrote.
However, Pompeo said Turkish security quickly let him through, and US officials joined Erdoğan’s meeting with Pence.
İbrahim Kalın, the Turkish president’s chief advisor and spokesperson, responded to Pompeo on Thursday, saying Pence wasn’t alone with Erdoğan as he was accompanied by then-special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey as well as Kalın himself.
“As the conversation went on, Pompeo had a total meltdown outside, we later learned,” he told the Hürriyet newspaper. “He physically made a move towards the door to enter and join the meeting, even though the vice president didn’t want him to.”
Kalın said Pence never asked Turkish officials to invite Pompeo into the room.
Pompeo also wrote in his book that the Turkish-trained Syrian militants were not qualified enough to beat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2017, which is why they worked with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is led by Kurdish groups viewed as terrorists by Ankara.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in a televised briefing on Thursday that the Turkish military at the time had the capacity to defeat ISIL as it had already seized a large chunk of territory from both the ISIL and Kurdish groups.
“He must have written this book for his upcoming presidential campaign,” Çavuşoğlu said, referring to Pompeo.
“I will say there is incorrect information in those statements. I’m being diplomatic, but you could call it a lie,” he added.
Pompeo said Washington had two options: work with the US’s Kurdish allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), or work with the Turkish military. Ankara views the SDF as part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
Pompeo said he personally delivered the news that Washington would work with the SDF to clear the remaining territory ISIL held in Syria, including its self-declared capital of Raqqa.
“I’ve never seen such anger erupt so quickly in a room. Kalin and [Turkish intel chief Hakan] Fidan exploded and then left quickly. It wasn’t great for the relationship,” he wrote.
Kalın said on Thursday that he and Fidan weren’t angry but very clear in their position. “Because one cannot fight against a terrorist organization by supporting another terrorist organization,” he said. “What he called anger was our clear demeanor.”