One terrorist group can’t destroy another: Turkish PM
LONDONTurkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said that using one terrorist group to destroy another is unworthy of serious states, as he commented on the United States’ decision to arm the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Ankara considers the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the YPG, as “terrorist” groups linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and has long pressed Washington to stop its alliance with the group in the fight against ISIL.
“The YPG/PYD are whatever the PKK is to Turkey, a terrorist organization. One terrorist organization cannot be destroyed by another terror organization,” Yıldırım told reporters about his brief meeting on May 12 with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis in London at conference on Somalia.
Such support “is not an action suitable to serious states,” he said. “We have told our concern about this to America for a long time. They are not happy with the present situation either. They told us there was a requirement. We do not agree about that.”
Yıldırım said U.S. officials told Turkey they can extend various cooperation to combat the PKK, such as intelligence-sharing and monitoring financial resources.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Yıldırım said the issue of weapons for the PKK/PYD would be addressed in detail during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Washington next week.
“We hope the new U.S. administration will not repeat the mistakes of the old administration on both the FETÖ issue and the fight against Daesh in Syria,” Yıldırım said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL, while also referring to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), widely believed to have orchestrated the July 2016 failed coup attempt.
“The defense secretary on numerous occasions made very, very clear, an unequivocal commitment that they would never allow those weapons to be turned against Turkey,” he said as he underlined reassurances made by Mattis.
“Turkey’s concerns are understood but on the ground this was a tactical alliance and they had no choice,” he said of the U.S. policy to add the YPG to the assault against Daesh in Raqqa, Syria.
Yıldırım underscored the U.S.’s policy in Syria was tactical rather than strategic.
“We’ve been trying to explain this,” he said.
“What is unfortunate is that this tactical plan doesn’t even belong to this administration; it dates back to the previous administration,” he added.
The prime minister also separately told the BBC that Turkey’s messages will be clear during Erdoğan’s visit to Washington.
“We are not going to declare war on the United States, this is not the case. We will say we are allies in NATO from the very beginning, so we are strategic partners. In order to fight terror in the region, you can only do it with Turkey, not with a terror organization,” he said.
“We faced a very serious coup attempt by the FETÖ organization. The head of this terror organization is living in the U.S. Since we are partners as we are friends and friendly countries, you should deport him as soon as legal procedures are complete.”
Turkey has been pressing the U.S. to extradite the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
“We are going to continue to fight terror organization whether its name is PKK, or PYD or YPG; doesn’t matter,” Yıldırım said.
Asked if Turkey would continue to bomb the YPG in Syria if the group is armed by the U.S., Yıldırım was succinct.
“Of course,” he said. “If there is a threat we certainly will do.”