Turkey convenes top security board to discuss east of Syria
Turkey’s top security board has convened to discuss the recent developments in the region that pose a threat on the country’s safety, as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed that Ankara will take all necessary measures to counter the YPG in the east of Syria. The meeting came after the United States decided to establish observation posts along the Syrian border.
The National Security Council (MGK) convened on Nov. 27 under the leadership of President Erdoğan and with the participation of senior civilian and military officials in the Turkish capital Ankara.
The board discussed a wide range of issues, such as the U.S. decision to monitor the Turkish-Syrian border, recent Russian bombing of the opposition positions in Aleppo, ongoing tension between Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea and Greece and Greek Cyprus’ hydrocarbon activities in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Erdoğan, just before the MGK meeting, strongly criticized the United States for its continued support to the YPG in the east of Syria but without directly naming it. Turkey deems the YPG as an offshoot of the PKK, which is listed a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.
Arguing that many foreign troops have been deployed in Syria on the pretext of eliminating the ISIL but in fact it was only Turkey which fought against these jihadist militants, Erdoğan said: “We have taken the risk and inflicted a great blow on this terror organization. I speak openly: We popped the Daesh [another acronym for ISIL] bubble through the Shield of Euphrates operation of ours.”
“Those who say are countering the ISIL in Syria are in fact allowing a small group of terrorists exist in the country to justify their presence in the war-torn country,” the president said, referring to the U.S. support for the YPG but without naming it openly.
“I call on the whole world: There is no Daesh in Syria. There are some small gangs, under the disguise of the ISIL, who are being trained, equipped and kept in reserve in order to stir up trouble in the country and in the region,” he stated.
The U.S. is not aiming “to fight terror” but instead prefers to “live and breathe with the terrorists,” Erdoğan said.
“The only target of this terror organization, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK, is our country. It’s not possible for us to remain idle against this threat,” Erdoğan said, referring to the YPG.
“Those who argue that the YPG does not constitute a threat on Turkey will only deceive themselves,” the president also stated, adding Turkey will take some actions in the coming months to this end.
‘Turkey’s rights in Mediterranean to be protected’
Erdoğan also touched on the recent developments in the eastern Mediterranean as the tension between Turkey and Greece as well as the Greek Cyprus has escalated recently.
The actions of Greece and the Greek Cyprus in the region over intensified hydrocarbon activities “constitute a threat and danger” for Turkey, the president said, vowing that the duo’s moves aiming to limit the Turkish influence in the region are “futile.”
“We are determined to bring those (countries) which are trying to prevent us from using our international rights into line,” he said.
‘Black Sea should be sea of peace’
On the tension between Ukraine and Russia, Erdoğan called on both countries to de-escalate tension and resolve the problem through dialogue.
“We want to see the Black Se as a sea of peace. We are repeating our call for restraint to both parties. We want to see Russia and Ukraine side by side, not face to face at a moment when the world is living through serious political, military and economic threats,” he added.