Syria Daily: Before Meeting Trump, Turkey’s Erdogan Lashes Out at US “Slander”


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.

Erdoğan summarized:

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)

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  1. [TEV-DEM’s Aldar Khalil:] We are not the PKK, no matter how much Erdogan wishes it were so, and it is not difficult to explain why.
    Modern Kurdish groups can trace their political philosophies to one of two founding figures: Mustapha Barzani and Abdullah Ocalan. The fundamental distinction between the two is that while Barzani, the father of the current president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Massoud Barzani, called for building a nationalist Kurdish state based on aristocracy and the rule of a few, Ocalan called for a socialist state where all were equal. Over time, Ocalan evolved his ideas from socialism to federalism, believing that a democracy where power is decentralized is the best way to protect both individual and collective freedoms.
    The influences of these figures and ideas can be seen today. Iraq’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) springs from the Barzani school of thought, and as a result the KRG is ruled by a few, with power and wealth concentrated in the hands of the Barzani family and its friends. Ocalan’s school of thought, on the other hand, extends to the PYD, Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and the PKK, as well as other groups in Iraq and Iran. All these groups have implemented Ocalan’s ideas differently and pursued different aims, as we interact with different geopolitical players.
    We don’t deny our relationships with all Kurdish parties in the four parts of Kurdistan (spread across present-day Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq), as we don’t deny our connection to Ocalan. In fact, as I write this, I am proud to say I have a photo of Ocalan on my desk next to me. Ocalan’s views and philosophy are at the core of how we govern the Northern Syrian Federation, or Rojava. And they are why, under our control, northern Syria has become a model — respecting the rights of minority groups and women, and ensuring that individual and collective freedoms are not only protected but empowered.
    We also don’t deny that PKK also traces its school of thought back to Ocalan. However, their implementation of his teachings differs greatly from ours, and their political circumstances do as well. These distinctions are important, however much Erdogan wishes the world to ignore them. We can share a founding philosophical father without being the same organization. 5/15/2017

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