Rick Perry
Rick PerryIsrael news photo: Perry website

Republican party presidential hopeful Rick Perry says Turkey “is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists.” He spoke at a debate in South Carolina, where he is running for the nomination in the state’s primary elections.

The Texas governor responded to the debate moderator’s comment that the AKP party, led by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has led the country into less press freedom, a high murder rate of women and deteriorating relations with Israel.

“Obviously when you have a country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists, when you start seeing that type of activity against their own citizens, then... not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong to be in NATO but it’s time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it,” Perry said,  

Turkey’s newspapers reported Perry as flatly stating that “Turkey is being governed by Islamic terrorists.” A headline published by the National Turk termed Perry a “redneck ignorant.”

Perry said Turkey may no longer be an American ally. “When you have countries that are moving far away from the country that I lived in back in the 1970s as a pilot of the US Air Force, that was our ally, they worked with us. But today, we don’t see that,” Perry said.

He also criticized the US foreign policy under President Barack Obama, saying “it makes our allies very nervous and emboldens our enemies.”

His foreign policy adviser, Victoria Coates, later told reporters, “The governor was responding to the questioner’s references to violence against women and to association with Hamas, I think both of which are things that many people do associate as he said with Islamic terrorists.

“He was referring to those things, and while he would welcome the opportunity to work with Turkey on regional issues like Syria or Iraq, this kind of behavior on the part of that country is disturbing and I think we should concerned about it.”

Referring to the Turkish-backed flotilla attempts to reach Hamas-controlled Gaza, she added, “It's deeply concerning, and I think it's something any future American president needs to be aware of." Turkish IHH-terror linked activists two years ago brutally attacked Israel navy commandos who boarded their Mavi Marmara ship to prevent it from reaching Gaza.

The navy soldiers overpowered their attackers after three commandos were seriously wounded. Nine of the attackers were killed in the battle on board.