Turkish President Erdoğan complains of cacophony in US
Akif Beki PARIS/ISTANBUL
AA PhotoAlthough Turkey’s view of the battle over the Syrian border town of Kobane is extremely clear, it is not possible to say the same for U.S. officials in Washington, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, saying there is a “cacophony” of different views on the town in the U.S. capital.
“We have clearly expressed our views on Kobane to the U.S. We also said we wouldn’t find it appropriate for an ally country to give arms to a group which we believe is related to terror,” Erdoğan told a small group of journalists on board his presidential jet.
“However, afterwards, you drop weapons there from C-130s; some of these weapons end up with the PYD [Democratic Union Party]; and some of them end up with Da’esh, although accidently, according to what they said,” Erdoğan said en route from Paris to Istanbul late on Oct. 31, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The Turkish president previously said he had been proven right over his objections to the airdrop by U.S.-led coalition forces intended for PYD forces battling ISIL in Kobane, claiming that some of the supplies ended up in the hands of jihadist militants.
“The spokesperson of each unit in the U.S. sounds different from each other over these issues. The White House spokesperson says something, the Pentagon spokesperson says something else, the State Department spokesperson says another thing and the National Security Council spokesperson says something different from all,” Erdoğan said. “Some claim that we have not lent support to the U.S. That’s a lie. We have given the required support. But we give this support within the framework of certain rules and we proceed according to NATO’s planning,” he said, while noting that the amount of humanitarian assistance Turkey provided for Syrian Kurds who fled from Kobane was much higher than the amount of the weaponry provided by the U.S. for forces fighting in Kobane.
The Turkish government views the PYD with deep suspicion because of its ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkey has refused to send troops to fight the militants but has allowed a group of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to cross from northern Iraq to help defend the town.
In response to earlier statements by Erdoğan, Washington said the PYD’s legal situation in the United States was different than that of the PKK, which is on its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).
While in Paris, Erdoğan said Washington and its allies were too focused on Kobane and should also turn their attention elsewhere.
According to Erdoğan, the PYD’s policy is based on not permitting the presence of any force in Kobane other than itself.
“In Syria, Aleppo is in danger, too. Coalition forces are not worried about Aleppo, but are worried about Kobane,” Erdoğan said, while noting that Turkey let in all civilians fleeing from Kobane and had not closed its border gates at all. “However, much history is being destroyed in Aleppo right now. People will face a similar situation there tomorrow and they are putting up their last fight now,” he added.
A no-fly zone above the 36th line of latitude should be declared either by the U.N. Security Council or NATO, Erdoğan said, suggesting that the real danger was posed against Turkey which is already home to 1.6 million Syrian refugees.
‘Patience for HDP wearing thin’
Despite voicing resolve to move ahead with plans regarding the peace process aimed at ending the three-decade long conflict between Turkey’s security forces and the PKK, Erdoğan also expressed unease with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which called for marches on Nov. 1 in solidarity with Kobane as part of a worldwide day of action.
“There is a patience limit for everything. It has been five years since we launched this process. First, we called it the ‘Opening Process,’ then ‘National Unity and Fraternity,’ and now we’re calling it the ‘Resolution Process.’ The HDP is calling for [people to] take to the streets. They say it is not aimed at violence,” Erdoğan said, arguing that the HDP’s call was meant to urge people to “wear their masks, use sticks and Molotov cocktails and attack shops,” rather than calling on people to hold peaceful rallies.
“Both security forces and citizens are uneasy. That’s why I say that patience has a limit. I wouldn’t even like to imagine what could happen if that limit is trespassed.”
Despite Erdoğan’s concerns, the Nov. 1 rallies passed with a minimum of violence, although police did attack protesters in Van.