Turkey-US to discuss Syria, PKK and legal affairs
A Turkish delegation will visit Washington on Feb. 5 for the meetings of Turkey-US working groups on Syria, fight against PKK and on consular issues. On Feb. 6, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will participate anti-ISIL meeting in Washington and is likely to have talks with his American counterpart Pompeo.
White House National Security Adviser John Bolton delivered a non-paper to the Turkish team last week that outlines basic points of the U.S. policy with regard to its withdrawal and expectations from Turkey. The move followed by Turkey’s own non-paper at which Ankara stressed the “terrorist identity” of the YPG and its determination to eliminate the group.
But the parameters of a US-proposed safe zone is yet to be clear and Turkish delegation wants to hear the details of the secure zone, while conveying Turkey’s expectations.
However, the opinions and policies remain uncertain. We are still in the process of deliberation,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said last week in an interview to Hürriyet Daily News.
Recalling the non-papers exchanged between Ankara and the US, the minister noted that general perspectives of the two NATO allies regarding the US pullout from Syria are overlapping. Çavuşoğlu said that the main topic Turkey and U.S. have dissented on is YPG.
Ankara and Washington both object the possibility that the Syrian regime will fulfill the vacuum in the area after US pullouts its soldiers from east of Euphrates.
Turkey has long been deploying troops and military equipment on the Syrian border for an incursion against the YPG presence in the east of Euphrates but has delayed it after the U.S. President Donald Trump had announced the complete withdrawal of the American troops from the war-torn country.
“U.S. has acknowledged the seriousness of this and we speeded up the process. Our soldiers and intelligence in the field discuss the lists of names, who will be assigned in [Manbij’s local] security unites and local administrations,” Çavuşoğlu earlier said.
Ties between the longstanding allies were seriously hit in 2017 over a number disagreements. Turkey’s demands for the extradition of Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, the U.S. military support to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), and Turkey’s arrest of local employees at the U.S. Consulates in İstanbul and in Adana on terror charges are among the key sources of tension between the two countries.
In order to address disagreements between the two NATO allies, Turkey and the US have agreed on the formation of three working groups; on Syria, fight against the PKK and legal and consular issues a bid to narrow differences. On Feb. 5, the working group for the PKK issue will have its first meeting.