Turkey will ‘hand Manbij to Arab owners’ after expelling YPG: Erdoğan
Turkey’s anticipated military operation into Syria’s Manbij will expel the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the city so its “original Arab owners” can be resettled there, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.
“Mr. Obama did not tell the truth. Trump is also on the same path. They said: ‘We will withdraw from Manbij.’ Why don’t you withdraw? Who have you brought to this city with you? The PYD [Democratic Union Party], the YPG and the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK. You allow them to settle and tell us ‘Don’t come to Manbij.’ We will come to Manbij to hand it over to its real owners,” Erdoğan told his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group on Feb. 6.
Manbij, a town in northwestern Syria, has become the focus of a growing bilateral spat between Turkey and the U.S. in the aftermath of the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Obama administration had pledged to move YPG militants to the east of the Euphrates River after ISIL was pushed out.
The U.S. has been partnering with the YPG in the fight against the ISIL despite Ankara’s fierce opposition. Turkey recently launched “Operation Olive Branch” to clear the YPG from the Afrin district of northern Syria, with senior Turkish officials repeatedly vowing that the next target is Manbij.
“Those who equate Turkey with those marauders under the pretext of the anti-ISIL fight have now begun to realize which one is a state and which one is a band of gangs,” Erdoğan said on Feb. 6.
‘Sleeping giant is now awakened’
He also claimed that Turkey has “wasted the last two centuries with sacrifices” and has “lost around 5 million square kilometers” of land once ruled by the Ottoman Empire, suggesting that the “same powers” today consider the current size of the Republic of Turkey to be “too much for Turks.”
“They have forced us so much that in the end they have awakened a sleeping giant. They should know this. The Turkish people are advancing to a new era. No state or international organization can question the power of Turkey any more,” Erdoğan said.
The country’s operations in Afrin and Idlib will continue as planned, the president said, stating that the number of “neutralized YPG terrorists already exceeds 1,000.”
“Thanks to steps we have taken in Jarablus, 135,000 Syrians were able to return to their homes. Our objective is to create the conditions necessary to let the people of Afrin return to their homes. I told this to Trump and Obama. We’ll undertake the construction and you will support us. We will now see their humanitarian assistance,” Erdoğan said.