The US and the PYD Crisis

The U.S.’s decision to prioritize supporting PYD (Kurdish Democratic Union Party) and supporting them with weapons in the war against the Islamic State caused a big reaction from Turkey. While the U.S. ambassador was notified that this situation is unacceptable, interim Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, “No one should expect an understanding regarding this issue. We have informed both Russia and the U.S. on this. It is a national security matter for us.”

Turkey and the U.S. reached an agreement in mid-July that allowed coalition forces to use Turkey’s airbases, and this agreement was considered a “game changer” in the war against the Islamic State group. After the agreement, it was thought that the Islamic State group was going to be removed immediately from the Turkish borders, and the evacuated areas were going to be filled with moderate Syrian rebels. However, things have changed over the past three months.

Russia showed that it will not let Assad’s regime be overthrown and leave the region to a U.S.-led Western coalition, and responded with a military move to undermine the plans of Turkey and the U.S. Russia’s weapons and military deployments to Syria, and its strikes targeting the Islamic State group and other rebel groups — plus its deliberate intrusion into Turkey’s airspace (a member of NATO) — are considered the real game-changing steps. In the meantime, Russia’s opening of a new door for collaboration with PYD, and organizing meetings in Paris between Moscow and PYD, made the situation even more complicated. All this was more than enough for Ankara; [hence its] reaction.

The event that makes things even more dramatic and complicated for Turkey is the U.S.’s suspension of its controversial Train and Equip Program, and its focus on PYD instead of on this program, considering [the PYD] as the ground forces that battle the Islamic State group. The breaking point of this matter started with a C-17 cargo plane that took off from Kuwait to north Syria on the night of Oct. 11 in order to provide weapons and ammunition to PYD. Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith, who was interviewed by the Anatolia News Agency, said that ground forces in northern Syria that fight with the Islamic State Group were supported with air supply, and the freighter contained light weapons ammunition.

Ankara Reacted Strongly

This move by the U.S. caused a big stir in Ankara. The one who expressed this reaction in the strongest manner was interim Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Yesterday morning, right after this newsflash was announced, Davutoglu got together with representatives of newspapers in Ankara and said that he gave instructions to Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu to initiate diplomatic contact with the U.S. and Russia in order to voice Turkey’s concern.

It was reported that yesterday’s meeting at the foreign ministry with U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass was regarding this issue. It was also said that the same concerns will be conveyed to Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov. As Davutoglu expressed, “They will be informed that we do not and will not accept this in any way,” and this will be conveyed to all parties.

Weapons for the PYD Means Weapons for the PKK

The primary point that Davutoglu underlines is that there is no difference between the PYD and PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) for Turkey, while Western countries hold exactly the opposite view. The principle of this idea and Davutoglu’s reasoning is that recently, the PKK has started to take up arms and attack Turkey again.

Davutoglu said that conditions were much different five to six months ago with the PYD and PKK, but today they are not important to Turkey. He added that “we will count any support provided to the PYD and PKK as a support given against Turkey.”

Davutoglu said, “I would like to state very firmly and clearly that [Turkey] will apply the same precautions to Syria that have been done to northern Iraq against the PKK if there is any infiltration of and/or attack on Turkey whatsoever from Syria, as well as if there are ammunition transfers inside Turkey.”

Davutoglu expressed how Ankara would take a stand in this situation. He said, “No one can provide us a reliable justification about the current aid received by the PYD from not going to the PKK. If we detect that the aid given to the PYD is being transferred to Iraq and used in Iraq by the PKK or find out that it has entered Turkey, we will treat the PYD the same as we have the PKK and destroy any kind of weapon directed at Turkey anywhere we find it.”

Already holding opposing views about the priority of Syria (whether it be the Islamic State group or Assad), Ankara and Washington also have different visions about the safe zone. On top of all this, time will show how the relationship between Ankara and Washington will be affected by the PYD crisis.

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1 Comment

  1. Turkey thinks it has the right tell the USA and Russia and everyone else what to do. Sorry to disappoint you. Get your own house in order. Turkey has gone from “no problems with neighbors” to “big problems with all neighbors” and now including the PKK and PYD .

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