Turkey responds to Trump’s threat over the weekend; Turkish FM: Turkey expects the US to honor our strategic partnership and doesn’t want it to be shadowed by terrorist propaganda.
Turkey announced it would continue its fight against the Kurds despite President Trump’s warning over the weekend.
Addressing the US withdrawal from Syria and remaining Islamic State factions, President Trump warned of economic pressure if Turkey were to attack the Kurds. The President took to Twitter on Sunday, stating “Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” calling on Turkey to create a “20-mile safe zone” on the Syrian-Turkish border.
Turkey responded on Monday, a spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ibrahim Kalin, responding via Twitter and calling on the Trump Administration to honor its “strategic partnership” with Turkey. He claimed Monday “It is a fatal mistake to equate Syrian Kurds with the PKK, which is on the US terrorist list, and its Syria branch PYD/YPG. Terrorists can’t be your partners and allies. Turkey expects the US to honor our strategic partnership and doesn’t want it to be shadowed by terrorist propaganda.” He added, “We will continue to fight against them all,” referring to Kurdish and ISIS forces in Syria.
Over the weekend, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlet Cavusoglu condemned President Trump’s remarks, responding and stating “We do not seek permission from anyone. We would take necessary steps against terrorists near our borders, and we will decide the timing on our own… The United States and all other countries should show sufficient respect for Turkey.”
The United States fought alongside the YPG (People’s Protection Units) in Syria in the fight against ISIS and provided Kurdish forces with military training and weapons. Turkey regards the YPG as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and as terrorists.
Over the weekend, reports confirmed US troops are beginning to withdraw from Syria. Col. Sean Ryan confirmed the “process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria” had begun and that details of the withdrawal would not be provided given security concerns in the region.
Following President Trump’s announcement on the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, President Erdogan promised to destroy the remaining ISIS factions in Syria, as well as to remove the YPG from Syria. He stated at the time, “In the coming months, we will see an operational style aimed at removing the YPG and Daesh [ISIS] elements on the ground in Syria.”
Turkey’s last military offense in Syria was in Afrin in January 2018 and in northern Syria against Islamic State forces prior in 2016.
Be sure to watch Amir’s Middle East Update where he spoke about the tension between Turkey and the US over the Kurds and much more.