US tried to deceive Turkey in Syria, says Erdoğan
“If we are strategic partners, you will have to respect us and move along with us. You [U.S.] tried to deceive us. You sent 5,000 trucks of weapons there. You sent more than 2,000 trucks of ammunition there. We wanted weapons from you to buy with our money, but you did not give any to us. What kind of a strategic partnership or solidarity is this?” Erdoğan said at his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) group meeting in Ankara.
“The U.S. spokesperson makes a comment and says, ‘We are concerned about the situation in Afrin.’ Where were you when we transmitted our concerns to you? Where were you when we said ‘let’s clean the terrorist organization from there?’” he added.
Commenting on U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert’s statement on the situation in Afrin, Çavuşoğlu also questioned why the U.S. is “concerned” by the operation.
“The operation is over. [We have not] destroyed or burned. We have carried out the operation with utmost care. Why are the U.S. and other countries getting worried when civilians in Afrin are happy to have Turkey there,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters on March 20.
He suggested that the U.S. is making such statements because it is “under pressure” from the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Turkish Foreign Ministry undersecretary Ümit Yalçın and his U.S. counterpart will meet in the coming days, he also said, adding that departing U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has delegated his duties to his deputy.
Çavuşoğlu said the diplomats will work on a “road map” prepared for the retreat of the YPG from Manbij under the control of Turkey and the U.S.
During Tillerson’s most recent visit to Ankara, Turkey and the U.S. agreed to build a “mechanism” in which the two countries’ defense ministries and intelligence agencies would work to resolve issues straining relations, including the situation in Syria and the movement of Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
The first meeting at the technical level took place last week in Washington, where the two sides discussed a model to be implemented in Syria’s Manbij province. Çavuşoğlu was due to meet Tillerson on March 19 to discuss a roadmap for Syria’s Manbij, including the withdrawal of the YPG militants that Turkey wants, though the appointment of Mike Pompeo as new secretary of state has cast doubt on the fate of Manbij.
Ankara has long pressed the U.S. to push the YPG to withdraw from Manbij to the east of the Euphrates.