Is your partner Turkey or PYD, Erdoğan asks US
Vahap Munyar - DAKAR/ISTANBUL
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has denounced a senior U.S. official’s visit to Kurdish-controlled northern Syria, underlining the “mistrust” the visit has created in Ankara over the nature of Turkey’s “partnership” with the U.S.
Erdoğan has also said Turkey would not “make the same mistake it did in Iraq in 2003 vis-à-vis the creation of a de facto situation” in neighboring Syria, voicing his country’s readiness in order to protect its national interests in case of all kinds of developing scenarios in Syria.
Meanwhile, he also reiterated Turkey’s stance on the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing, the People’s Defense Units (YPG). Turkey considers the party and its affiliates in the same category as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“We will take this issue to all international organizations. Each moment that we haven’t taken it there is a loss for us. If steps are not taken for their [classification] as a terrorist organization, we would be delayed. Look, [U.S. Vice President Joe] Biden arrived with an assistant. He is a national security official whose name has earlier ben cited with Mr. Obama too. Just during the meetings in Geneva, he travels to Kobane. He receives a plaque from a so-called general in Kobane. How will we trust? Am I your partner or are the terrorists in Kobane?” Erdoğan asked, while speaking with reporters en route from Dakar to Istanbul as he wrapped up a Latin America tour that covered Chile, Peru and Ecuador.
The U.S. envoy to the coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Brett McGurk, confirmed on Feb. 1 that he visited Kurdish-controlled northern Syria the previous weekend. McGurk said his trip aimed to review the fight against the jihadist group that controls swathes of Syria and Iraq.
He also said that it was long-planned and not “in any way” related to Syria peace talks in Geneva that are seeking to end a nearly five-year civil war that has killed at least 250,000 people and driven more than 10 million people from their homes.
‘No more mistakes’
Elaborating on Ankara’s resolve to protect its national interests when dealing with the Syrian crisis, Erdoğan recalled a motion made on March 1, 2003.
Only days after a motion introduced by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government allowing the deployment of U.S. troops in Turkey and the deployment Turkish troops in Iraq as part of Washington’s military campaign against Baghdad was refused, Erdoğan took over as the prime minister.
Former President Abdullah Gül was appointed as the foreign minister of the 59th government only days after the March motion was rejected during his term in office as prime minister of the 58th government.
“We will hold a narrow meeting and will review sensitive issues there,” Erdoğan said when asked about Turkey’s probable moves in face of the “creation of a de facto situation in Syria.”
“We don’t want to make the mistake that was made in Iraq, in Syria too. I was standing by the March 1 motion; those who were against it didn’t say openly at the time. Some secretly lobbied. You can find who they are by researching. If the March 1 motion was accepted at the first moment and Turkey was in Iraq, then the situation in Iraq would not be like this. If the March 1 motion was accepted at the first moment, Turkey would be sitting at the table. At the time, [former U.S. President George W.] Bush has made a request during meetings with me. However, unfortunately, we remained alone with our friends’ mistake,” he said.
“Now, affairs in Syria can resume like this only to a certain extent. As Turkey, we have to protect our sensitivities,” Erdoğan said.
“These kinds of things are not talked about, what is required is made when it is needed,” he responded when asked whether Turkey might face an “immediate move.”
“At the moment, we are ready against all kinds of possibilities with all of our security forces. Nobody should worry,” he said.