Turkey slams US over Syria move
The United States’ decision to exempt YPG-controlled areas in northern Syria from American sanctions is discriminatory and aims to legitimize the PKK/YPG terror organization, Turkey’s diplomat has said.
“This is a selective and discriminatory move. They will have flexibility on [the implementation of] Caesar Act in certain areas,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said at a joint press conference with visiting Democratic Republic of Congo’s Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula Apala on May 13 in Istanbul.
The U.S.’ Caesar Act prevents private companies from investing and running businesses in the Syrian territories as part of the sanctions imposed on Damascus. The U.S. Treasury Department lifted prohibitions on business activities in 12 different economic sectors in northern Syria, including agriculture, telecommunications, power grid infrastructure, construction, manufacturing, trade, finance and clean energy.
Most of these regions are under the control of the YPG, the U.S.’ partner in the fight against ISIL. Turkey has long been opposing the U.S. partnership with the YPG as it is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, a terror organization acknowledged by the U.S., the EU and U.N.
Çavuşoğlu said the exemption would be implemented in areas where the YPG/PKK are overwhelmingly present but not in areas such as Afrin, a northern Syrian town cleared from the PKK terrorists by the Turkish army.
The U.S. move should have included Idlib, an enclave where millions of people need humanitarian aid, Çavuşoğlu stated, recalling that more Syrians would be able to return home if the conditions would be improved through foreign aid.
“Here, we see an effort for legitimizing the PKK, the YPG. This is a decision taken on certain grounds and without consulting with anyone,” the top diplomat stated.
Çavuşoğlu’s statement came days before he is set to visit Washington and hold talks with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. The two men will meet on May 18.
Turkey expects concrete move from France
On a question, Çavuşoğlu also shared Ankara’s views about a recent terrorist attack against Turkey’s General Consulate in Paris, which was claimed by the PKK.
Citing an increase in the number of attacks against Turks and Turkish institutions in Europe, Çavuşoğlu drew the attention to the Vienna Convention, which puts the responsibility of the protection of the diplomatic mission to the host country.
“First of all, France should do what is necessary for arresting the perpetrators of this attack and holding them accountable before the court. In this sense, the adviser of [French President Emmanuel] Macron called our ambassador, and the mayor of Paris issued a message of sympathy. We value them, but we also want to see concrete steps,” he stated.
In a bid to avoid the repetition of these attacks, necessary actions, including freezing the assets, should be taken against the PKK-affiliated persons, Çavuşoğlu said, adding, “In this regard, some steps had been taken by France, but we see that they are not sufficient.”