Biggest issue with US is its support to YPG, not S-400s: Defense minister
HANDE FIRAT - ANKARA
The biggest problem between Turkey and the United States is the latter’s continued support to the YPG in eastern Syria, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said, calling on its NATO ally to revise its decision to impose sanctions on the Turkish defense industry body over the acquisition of the Russian S-400 systems.
“The biggest problem between us is not the S-400s. Isn’t the PKK/YPG a terror organization? Then we should start from there. Our American friends should give an answer to this. We should be able to name it,” Akar told daily Hürriyet in an interview on Dec. 18.
Akar referred to the U.S. political and military support to the YPG as a local force it cooperates with in the fight against ISIL. Turkey sees the YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, and therefore as a terrorist structure.
The U.S. has supported the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and stresses this partnership is only aiming to fully eradicate the ISIL terrorist network in eastern Syria.
Akar’s statement comes days after the U.S. has imposed sanctions on the Turkish Defense Industry Presidency and its four top executives under the Countering American Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for purchasing the S-400 air defense systems from Russia.
Turkey had received the components of the system in mid-2019 and accomplished the test firing in October 2020. The U.S. law is aiming to deter countries from buying Russian military equipment.
US should revise decision
“Sanctions are not right. They shake trust and friendship. Our wish is that our American allies will reverse the decision and focus on mid and long-term planning by the prevailing of common sense. We are in favor of friendship,” he said.
Recalling that there will soon be a new administration in the U.S. and Turkey will assess what may happen in the coming period, the minister stressed that there are so many NATO countries, such as former Warsaw Pact countries and Greece which possess Russian military equipment in their inventory.
“We want our American friends to be objective. The means to resolve our problems should be dialogue, compromise, tolerance,” he stated.
Only Turkish experts to use S-400s
On a question, Akar echoed other Turkish officials who have made clear that sanctions will have a limited impact on the Turkish defense industry and the Turkish security forces. Akar, on another question, ruled out speculations that Turkey will not activate the systems, saying “We have bought them to use. Exporting the systems to another country is out of question. Russians will not be involved when we use them. The authorization of the system and control-command will be under our control.”
The S-400 system contains 16 launchers and two batteries and works concerning the batteries are still going on the defense minister informed. “As for the location where it will be dispatched, there will be works for building the necessary facilities and roads. The process is still going on. They will be located in a spot from where it can protect a couple of cities. Somebodies are speculating that they will just protect certain premises. This is not true.”