Erdoğan: “If the alliance will be overshadowed, then we will have to take care of ourselves.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has lashed out again at US policy on Syria, accusing Obama-era officials of trying to influence decisions by the Trump Administration.
Erdoğan told journalists as he visited Beijing on Sunday, two days before meeting Trump in Washington. “Turkey realized the danger of Daesh [the Islamic State] long before the United States did, and stood against it. Saying that Turkey has not fought Daesh is a betrayal to Turkey, a slander by the Obama administration.”
Erdoğan and the Turkish Government are concerned by US support for the Kurdish militia YPG, the leading faction in the Syrian Democratic Forces who have pushed back the Islamic State in northern Syria. After months of wavering between Turkey and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD), Washington has moved to support an SDF offensive against Raqqa, ISIS’s central position in Syria.
Last week, the SDF — aided by US airstrikes, special forces, armored vehicles, and weapons — completed the capture of Tabqa and its adjacent dam, the largest in Syria, about 40 km (25 miles) west of Raqqa.
Ankara considers the PYD and YPG to be part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK, listed as a “terrorist” group by the US and in battle with the Turkish security forces for more than 30 years.
Erdoğan said yesterday:
There are Obama’s men in lower positions [in the Trump administration]. He is looking at the situation in Iraq and Syria through the information fed by them.
And I say there is no need for the YPG or PYD . These are terrorist organizations. Considering cooperation with the YPG as a condition to fight Daesh is in fact destroying the reputation of the U.S. and the coalition.
The Turkish Government was angered last week that Trump signed an order formally authorizing the US aid, delivered since late 2015, to the SDF. The announcement came just after a high-level delegation, including Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, National Intelligence Agency chief Hakan Fidan, and Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın met US counterparts in Washington.
If we are strategic partners, we should make decisions in an alliance. If the alliance will be overshadowed, then we will have to take care of ourselves. Let me clearly state that we will not let anti-Turkey approaches strangle this alliance.
This issue, the problems have been continuing for far too long,” said Erdoğan. “We do not have the patience for it to continue.
Russian President Vladimir Putin moved to take advantage of any rift between Turkey and the US, telling the Belt and Silk international conference in Beijing on Sunday, “Unlike other countries we are not announcing any arms deliveries to Kurdish formations.”
Putin noted that he discussed the issue with Erdoğan.
TOP PHOTO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, May 13, 2017 (Yasin Bülbül/Anadolu Agency)