ANKARA Angered by a U.S. determination to arm Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria, Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan heads to Washington this 7 days for talks with Donald Trump trying to get either to change the president’s brain or to “type matters out ourselves”.
Trump’s approval of programs to source the YPG as it advances toward the Islamic Condition stronghold of Raqqa, just times ahead of his very first assembly with Erdogan, has cast a shadow around Tuesday’s prepared talks among the two NATO allies.
Ankara, a essential associate in the U.S.-led coalition versus Islamic Condition, considers the YPG an extension of the Kurdistan Employees Get together (PKK), which has waged an insurgency in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast for a few decades and is specified a terrorist team by Turkey, the European Union and United States.
Washington sees the YPG as distinct from the PKK and as a precious associate in the combat versus Islamic Condition.
“If we are strategic allies we have to choose selections as an alliance. If the alliance is to be overshadowed we will have to type matters out for ourselves,” Erdogan advised reporters on Sunday, according to the professional-government Sabah newspaper.
Erdogan was talking in the course of a take a look at to China, in advance of his vacation to Washington for his very first assembly with Trump.
Turkey experienced hoped that Trump’s inauguration would mark a new chapter in ties with Washington immediately after long-jogging tensions with the Obama administration around Syria coverage and Ankara’s needs for the extradition of U.S.-primarily based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Erdogan blames Gulen supporters for a failed coup attempt last July and has conducted a massive-scale crackdown on them, drawing criticism from Washington. Gulen, who has denied involvement in the coup, continues to be in the United States.
Erdogan welcomed Trump’s election victory last November and mentioned he hoped it would direct to “advantageous measures” in the Center East. When Erdogan narrowly received sweeping new powers in an April referendum, Trump rang to congratulate him, compared with European politicians who expressed reservations about the vote.
But hopes for rapprochement took a hit last 7 days. The determination to arm the YPG was “tantamount to positioning dynamite below Turkey-United states relations”, a senior Turkish official mentioned.
“Just as it was becoming mentioned that relations (which were) seriously harmed in the course of the Obama time period are becoming fixed, Turkey going aside from one of its major allies would be an extremely lousy indicator,” the official, who spoke on problem of anonymity, advised Reuters.
Erdogan portrays U.S. aid for the Kurdish militia – rather of Syrian Arab rebels – as a leftover coverage from the Obama administration, which he mentioned experienced wrongly accused Turkey of accomplishing as well tiny in the combat versus Islamic Condition.
“It is a slander of the Obama administration. Unfortunately now they have still left the Syria and Iraq issue in Trump’s lap,” Erdogan mentioned in China.
Erdogan will explain to Trump that backing a Kurdish force to retake Arab territory held by Islamic Condition will sow future crises, and that other forces in the area together with Kurdish Iraqi leaders also oppose the YPG, the Turkish official mentioned.
Turkish Key Minister Binali Yildirim mentioned immediately after talks in London last 7 days with U.S. Protection Secretary Jim Mattis that Trump’s assembly with Erdogan would be an possibility to “accurate the miscalculation” of aid for the YPG.
“Now we will carry out the final talks,” Erdogan mentioned. “Just after that we will make our final determination.”
The United States sees handful of options to supporting the YPG, which types a big element of the Syrian Democratic Forces advancing on Raqqa, if it is to accomplish the aim of crushing Islamic Condition in Syria.
Erdogan did not spell out what actions Turkey may well choose if Washington does press in advance with its programs.
Officials have recommended it could action up air strikes on PKK bases in northern Iraq, or YPG targets in Syria. It could also impose limits on the use of its Incirlik air foundation as a launchpad for the air marketing campaign versus Islamic Condition in Syria and Iraq.
But that would hamper operations versus jihadis who also menace Turkey and have claimed obligation for attacks together with the bombing of Istanbul airport in June 2016.
“Normally (Turkey) would have to take into consideration the aftermath of closing the Incirlik foundation to (U.S.) use,” mentioned Soli Ozel, a lecturer at Turkey’s Kadir Has university.
“It will not be quite effortless to put relations back on track,” Ozel mentioned. “I imagine eventually a system will be discovered. I imagine neither side would like to slash relations.”
(Further reporting by Tulay Karadeniz Composing by Dominic Evans Editing by Gareth Jones)