- Turkish Foreign Minister has once again slammed the US for its partnership with the Syrian Kurds.
- Cavusoglu deems the US alliance with the YPG militia to be dangerous, even if it is ‘for tactical purposes’ only.
- He has argued that the US backing for the Syrian Kurdish militia – seen as a terrorist group linked to the PKK – is stimulating ‘other terror organizations’.
- He has declared that the Syrian Kurds try to expand their territory through ‘demographic engineering’.
- Turkey expects the ISIS capital Raqqa to be handed over to the local Arabs after its liberation.
America’s alliance with the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG creates conditions for other terrorist organizations in Syria’s region, Turkish Foreign Ministry Mevlut Cavusoglu has said in the latest case of Turkey lambasting the US on the Kurdish issue.
Turkey views the YPG (“People’s Protection Units”) and its political wing, PYD (“Democratic Union Party”) as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), a group blacklisted as a terrorist organization for using violence to fight for the independence of the Kurds living in Southeast Turkey.
The PKK has been waging a guerilla war and committing terrorist attacks against Turkey since 1984, in a conflict which has claimed more than 40,000 lives.
In addition to Turkey, large ethnic Kurdish communities also live in Syria, Iran, and Iraq. The Kurds in Iraq enjoy an autonomy in the former of the Kurdistan Regional Government, also known as Iraqi Kurdistan, an entity the size of Scotland which is going to hold a referendum for independence in the fall, in spite of Turkey’s warnings.
Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu recently leaked the locations of secret US military bases in the areas held by the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG in Northern Syria, while the Turkish National Security slammed the United States for providing weapons to the YPG, which makes up the bulk of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The Syrian Democratic Forces, and the YPG, respectively, have been a major US ally on the ground fighting the ISIS terrorist group (“Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”). They have recently besieged the ISIS capital Raqqa, and breached the ISIS defenses.
The forces of the Syrian Kurds have emerged as more and more important in the ongoing Syrian Civil War, as has their mutual enmity with Turkey, as US President Donald Trump decided to arm them so they can conquer Raqqa.
In the ongoing civil war in Syria, Turkey backs a rebel group that it has been sponsoring, the Free Syrian Army. It has repeatedly offered the United States to recognize and switch its support to the Free Syrian Army, rather than the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (which also include the Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC) fighters).
Turkey has been carrying out air strikes against alleged PKK and YPG positions in North Iraq’s Sinjar Mountain region, and in Northeast Syria.
Turkish officials recently lashed out against Brett McGurk, US Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, known as the mastermind of the US plan to work with the YPG in defeating the jihadists in Syria. McGurk in turn accused Turkey of creating conditions for the establishment of al-Qaeda affiliates in the Idlib province in Northwest Syria.
The partnership between the United States and the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the fight against jihadists in northern Syria is “creating the ground for other terror organizations in the region,” according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“Even if just for tactical reasons, the use of a terrorist organization, the PYD/YPG [the Democratic Union Party and its armed wing] in the Raqqa operation will lead to other terror organizations in the region gaining more ground,” Cavusoglu told Turkish daily Türkiye in an interview on Thursday, as cited by Hurriyet Daily News.
It is noted that Turkey and the US have long been in a deep disagreement on the role of the YPG in the fight against ISIS in Syria, especially after the latter started shipping weapons to the group, which Turkey sees as organically linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Cavusoglu stressed that Ankara had repeatedly told the US that “fighting against one terror organization by allying with another terrorist group” was unwise and dangerous, especially with respect to Turkey’s security concerns.
“The aim of the PYD/YPG is to make its territorial gains last through demographic engineering under the cover of the fight against the Daesh,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
“We have conveyed our sensitivities and expectations to the US administration. The US administration has made commitments to us on these. We will continue to monitor the fulfillment of these commitments,” Cavusoglu stressed.
He expressed Ankara’s expectation that Raqqa would be handed to the control of local Arabs after its liberation from ISIS, rather than remain under Kurdish control.
“When the operation is concluded, the control and security of Raqqa should be handed to local Arab groups,” he added.
In addition to Turkey’s disputes with the US over America’s backing for the Syrian Kurds, Turkish – American relations have also been debilitated by the constant Turkish demands that the US arrest and repatriate Pennsylvania-based Turkish Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan claims that Gulen and his powerful movement Hizmet plotted the failed military coup attempt of July 15, 2016.
Turkey has been engaged in a long-standing diplomatic spat with another NATO ally, Germany, over a wide range of issues.