FM: US understands Turkey's position against Syrian Kurds

Frederick Owens
May 18, 2017

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has accused a senior United States diplomat of backing Kurdish militants and said he should be sent home.

Brett McGurk is "definitely giving support" to Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on May 18.

Cavusoglu said Turkey received US assurances that arms sent to the YPG would only be used against IS and not against Turkey, with a promise to support Turkey's fight against the PKK.

On his return to Ankara, the foreign minister said Turkey had been assured that after the operation in Raqqa, territory seized from the jihadists would be handed back to the local Arab population.

Al Jazeera's Mohammed Jamjoom, reporting from Geneva, where a new round of United Nations-backed Syria talks is now under way, said Cavusoglu's comments were "definitely significant".

"That has angered the Turks on many occasions - but this is different", he said.

"The question now becomes what more is Turkey prepared to do to put pressure on the USA".

"Turkey intially hoped that with the incoming administration, [ex-President Barack] Obama-era policies would be replaced", he told Al Jazeera from Istanbul.

On Tuesday, Trump held talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington amid heightened tensions over Trump's recent decision to arm Syrian Kurds fighting against Daesh.

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But Ankara is now upbeat about the future of relations with Washington under President Donald Trump, with Cavusoglu praising the new administration as "more sincere" after Erdogan's talks with the USA leader this week.

Washington and Ankara are at odds over USA plans to support the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish militia battling IS militants.

"It is absolutely unacceptable to take the YPG-PYD into consideration as partners in the region, and it's going against a global agreement we reached", Erdogan said in Washington.

"We should never allow those groups to manipulate the religious and ethnic structure of the region making terrorism as a pretext or excuse".

The council has been set up to manage the city once IS fighters have been ousted. "They were the ones who wanted to come and we helped them".

Speaking to reporters at the Turkish embassy in Washington, Erdogan said he told Trump that if there were a YPG attack, Ankara would act unilaterally.

"We told them. we do not regard your cooperation with a terrorist group in Raqqa as healthy", Erdogan was cited as saying, but he said he expected a role for Turkey in Syria.

But Erdogan said he believed Washington "will knock our door on the issue of Syria".

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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