Obama says no diminishing effect on Turkey-US security relations
AP photoThere is no diminishment in the security relations between the United States and Turkey, U.S. President Barack Obama has said, commenting on the growing rift between Turkey and the U.S. especially over the latest developments in northern Syria after Turkey launched an offensive to take a town on its border.
“We haven’t seen a diminishing effect on our security relations. Turkey continues to be a strong NATO ally. They are working with us to defeat ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant],” Obama told CNN International’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview, which will be aired on Sept. 4.
“And they are an important partner on a whole range of security issues in the region,” Obama added.
Turkey and the U.S. differ on the designation of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and their military wing, the People’s Protection Unit (YPG). While Turkey sees them as terrorist organizations due to them being offshoots of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the U.S. sees the PYD and YPG as reliable partners in the fight against ISIL.
The U.S. had asked Turkey to focus on ISIL targets rather than PYD forces after Turkey started targeting PYD forces in northern Syria following the capturing of Jarablus from ISIL in an operation late August.
“But no doubt what is true is that they’ve gone through a political and civil earthquake in the country. And they’ve got to rebuild. And how they rebuild is going to be important what we want to do is indicate to them that we support the Turkish people but like any good friend, we want to give them honest feedback if we think the steps they are taking are going to be contrary to their long-term interests and our partnership,” Obama said in reference to the July 15 failed coup attempt, which was thwarted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call on civilians to take to the streets to “defend democracy.”