The United States has primed a bomb in the Middle East with its decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said yesterday.
Yildirim said Turkey’s stark differences with Washington, which have already strained ties between the Nato allies, meant that an overwhelming majority of the Turkish people were now unsympathetic toward the United States.
“The United States has pulled the pin on a bomb ready to blow in the region,” Yildirim told a conference in Ankara.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday reversed decades of US policy by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and promising to move the US Embassy there.
Following the decision, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the US consulate in Istanbul; on Thursday, there was a heavy police presence with uniformed soldiers patrolling the roof.
“Today, more than 80% of our citizens are cold towards the United States and they are right to be so,” Yildirim said, without giving a source for the figure.
Bilateral relations had already been hurt by Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, seen by Ankara as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has for decades waged an insurgency against the Turkish state.
In addition, Ankara has been angered by the United States’ refusal to extradite US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom it accuses of orchestrating last year’s attempted military coup.
US officials say the courts have not been shown sufficient evidence to extradite Gulen, who has denied any involvement in the coup.
Turkey also says the case of Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who is on trial in New York and co-operating with US prosecutors, is an attempt to discredit it and undermine its economy.
Zarrab has pleaded guilty to helping Iran avoid US sanctions and detailed a vast international money laundering scheme.
Jordanian demonstrators torched the US flag and pictures of President Donald Trump during a protest yesterday near the American embassy in Amman to denounce his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Hundreds of people took part in the rally in the Abdoun neighbourhood of west Amman chanting slogans hostile to Trump and Israel and waving the Jordanian and Palestinian flags.
Dozens of riot police cars surrounded the fortified embassy compound to keep protesters at bay and policemen deployed in the area, an AFP reporter said.
Demonstrators stood around 50m away and called on Jordanian authorities to close the US embassy and expel the ambassador.
“No American embassy on Jordanian soil,” they chanted, saying the United States is “the source of terrorism” in the world. They also chanted “Death to Israel”.
Similar protests were held in universities across Jordan, with students denouncing Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem and calling for a boycott of the United States.
At a protest on the main Jordan University campus in Amman, thousands of students demonstrated chanted “down with American hegemony” and “long live Jerusalem”.
The students also called on Jordan, a close ally of the US, to cancel its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood has called on demonstrators to rally against Trump’s announcement after the weekly Friday prayers, and other protests are also expected to be held across the kingdom.
The Jordanian government has condemned Trump’s decision, warning that recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital amounted to a violation of international law and the UN charter.
Jordan is custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem and has stressed that the status of the disputed city must be decided through negotiations.
The Israeli military said yesterday that two rockets launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip fell short inside the Palestinian enclave.
Sirens sounded in Israel at various locations around the northern Gaza Strip on a day of heightened tensions following demonstrations in the coastal enclave and the occupied West Bank.
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