Turkey slams US for continued support to YPG
Turkey’s defense minister has criticized the United States for continuing its support to the YPG in northern Syria, recalling no success can be attained in the Middle East by ignoring Turkey’s role and place.
“We can resolve the S-400 and F-35 problems with the U.S. one way or another. But we cannot go anywhere without solving the YPG problem. They argue that the YPG is not a terrorist [organization]. They are messing with our heads,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told a group of journalists over the weekend.
The U.S. has long been lending political and military support to the YPG in the fight against ISIL despite Turkey’s strong criticisms. Turkey designated the YPG as the Syrian wing of the PKK, therefore as a terrorist organization.
Akar recalled that many American scholars, members of civil society and former military personnel stress that the YPG is a terrorist organization, but the U.S. administration still continues to deliver weapons and military equipment to it.
“This is so wrong. We are a regional power with a global impact. The U.S. coordination with Turkey in the Middle East can bring success, meaning cooperation with Turkey and not with the YPG,” he stated. The U.S. can’t achieve anything by ignoring Turkey, Akar said, asking, “Therefore, you should choose your ally in a better way. Who is your ally?”
Turkey and the U.S. are NATO partners, but they differ when it comes to fighting ISIL in Syria. Plus, the U.S. sanctioned Turkey for the acquisition of the S-400 air defense systems from Russia and ended its participation in the F-35 joint fighter program. Washington warns of more sanctions if Turkey attempts to buy the second batch of the air defense systems or any other weapon from Russia.
Turkey builds air bridge from Afghanistan
Minister Akar also spoke about the latest developments in Afghanistan and Turkey’s intention to stay in Kabul for the protection and operation of the international airport there. The closure of the airport will negatively impact the Afghan economy and trade and will isolate the country from the rest of the world, Akar said, recalling that Turkey is willing to continue to operate the airport in case agreement is reached with Taliban.
“Our talks with the Taliban continue. Our embassy continues its activities at the airport, but our flag is waving at our embassy. It has not been attacked and they told they will protect it,” he stated.
NATO partners express that they will cooperate with Turkey if its troops will stay in Kabul, the minister stressed, “But as I say, we will withdraw [our troops] within 24 hours if we see a risk. We have the capacity and means for the evacuation of all our citizens [from Afghanistan].”
Turkey is evacuating its citizens who wish to leave the country and has developed a strategy to accelerate the departures, the minister said.
“We have seen that we lose a lot of time if we make Kabul-Turkey flights with our military planes. We will keep some planes ready in a bid to speedily evacuate our people if need be. We will bring our planes there in one hour and remove our soldiers,” he said.
According to the new plan, Turkish citizens are flying to Islamabad from Kabul on military planes and then are sent to Turkey by Turkish Airlines, he informed. “We have transferred 570 of our citizens to Islamabad from Kabul with A-400 planes. Then they were taken to Turkish Airlines. We have established a sort of an air bridge,” he stated.
On a question, Akar said a new parliamentary motion is needed if the Turkish troops will stay in Kabul for the airport mission. “The parliament may meet in an extraordinary session. Our institutions and relevant ministries are working on it,” he stated.