Turkey objected strongly to President Donald Trump’s decision to arm Kurdish forces in Syria, calling the plan unacceptable and amounting to support for terrorists.
“This issue is a matter of existence or nonexistence for Turkey,” Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli told AHaber television on Wednesday. “It is a matter of survival for Turkey. Everyone should see it this way. We can never accept or allow the existence of terrorist organizations that pose a threat to Turkey’s future.”
While the U.S. considers Syrian Kurdish forces as the most reliable ground force to fight Islamic State in Syria, Turkey — a U.S. ally and NATO member — says they are linked to the Kurdish PKK group that has battled for autonomy in southeast Turkey for more than three decades. Mounting tensions could complicate efforts to retake Islamic State’s self-declared capital of Raqqa.
Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Isik, speaking to NTV television, said providing heavy arms to the YPG in Syria was a “crisis” and that no one should expect Turkey to support an operation that includes the group.
“I believe the U.S. president has not been sufficiently informed or is misinformed. It is not possible to accept the arming of a terrorist organization by our ally,” Turkey’s Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said in an interview on Wednesday. “I am not naive enough to believe that those weapons will be taken back.”
(c) 2017, Bloomberg · Selcan Hacaoglu