ibusinesslines.com August 18, 2017

Erdogan criticises United States plan to arm YPG in Syria

20 May 2017, 03:24 | Erica Roy

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made clear Thursday that America is committed to protecting Turkey after angering its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally with a deal to arm anti-Islamic State fighters in Syria that Turkey considers terrorists.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Wednesday that he could not imagine the U.S. having to choose between Turkey's strategic partnership and a "terrorist organisation".

The United States has long directly supplied arms to the Arab components of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, which include YPG fighters.

The US sees the YPG as a valuable partner in the fight against Isil militants in northern Syria, and says arming it is necessary to recapturing Raqqa, Isil's de facto capital in Syria and a hub for planning attacks against the West.

Mattis said that Washington will be cooperating with Turkey to liberate the Daesh-held northeastern Syrian city of Raqqah. We'll work out any of the concerns.

Otherwise, he warned, "the outcome won't only affect Turkey, a negative outcome will also emerge for the United States". "We hope the USA administration will put a stop to this wrong and turn back from it", he said in an interview with Turkish broadcaster A Haber. They have largely surrounded Raqqah and are expected to begin an offensive soon.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim meanwhile told reporters that Turkey can not accept "direct or indirect" support for the PKK, and that the USA should not try to use one terrorist group to defeat another.

The entire Turkish leadership establishment has rebuked U.S. decision to supply arms to Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) fighting Daech in Syria with help of United States air power.

"Last year [2016], Turkey's operation Euphrates Shield was not only targeting ISIL positions in that area but was aimed at weakening Kurdish forces along that border". The city, the militants' operational command headquarters, is now largely surrounded - its main supply routes cut off by advancing forces.

With air strikes and special forces from the USA -led coalition, the SDF have been advancing on Raqqa, Islamic State's base of operations in Syria, to isolate and ultimately seize the city.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the U.S.to reverse its decision, saying weapons in the hands of the Kurdish-led forces are a "threat" to his country.

But the decision, announced by the Trump administration Tuesday, is sure to rattle Turkey, which considers the Syrian Kurdish group, known as the YPG, to be a terror organization.

Every weapon obtained by the Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters constitutes a threat to Turkey, echoing Ankara's opposition to the USA deal to arm the Kurdish fighters.

Turkey's deputy Prime Minister denounced the decision as "unacceptable" and said it "amounts to support to a terror organization". But arming the SDF with heavy weapons and supporting USA and allied Special Operations Forces (President Macron is likely to provide French forces) presents Trump with an alternative to sending thousands of American infantrymen into a new Fallujah.

The timing of the announcement was especially delicate as a high-level Turkish delegation including Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and Turkey's spy chief Hakan Fidan had been in the US laying the groundwork for the meeting. "This issue is likely to come up when Turkish President Erdogan visits the White House next week".

"There is no reality in the comments that a ground operation against Daesh (Islamic State) can only be successful with the YPG".

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