One terrorist group can't destroy another: Turkish PM
Using one terrorist group to destroy another is unworthy of serious states, Turkey’s prime minister said Friday while criticizing a U.S. decision to arm the PKK/PYD to defeat Daesh in Syria, Anadolu reported.
Turkey considers the PYD and its armed wing, the YPG, the Syrian offshoots of the PKK, a banned terrorist organization in the U.S., Turkey, and the EU. But Washington has pushed back, instead utilizing the group’s partners in the fight against Daesh in northern Syria.
“The YPG/PYD are whatever the PKK is to Turkey, a terrorist organization. One terrorist organization cannot be destroyed by another terror organization,” premier Binali Yildirim told reporters about his brief meeting Thursday with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis in London at conference on Somalia.
Such support “is not an action suitable to serious states,” he said. “We have told our concern about this to America for a long time. They are not happy with the present situation either. They told us there was a requirement. We do not agree about that.”
Yildirim said U.S. officials told Turkey they can extend various cooperation to combat the PKK, such as intelligence-sharing and monitoring financial resources.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Yildirim said the issue of weapons for the PKK/PYD would be addressed in detail during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Washington next week.
“We hope the new U.S. administration will not repeat the mistakes of the old administration on both the FETO issue and the fight against Daesh in Syria,” Yildirim said.
“The defense secretary on numerous occasions made very, very clear, an unequivocal commitment that they would never allow those weapons to be turned against Turkey,” he said as he underlined reassurances made by Mattis.
“Turkey’s concerns are understood but on the ground this was a tactical alliance and they had no choice,” he said of the U.S. policy to add the YPG to the assault against Daesh in Raqqah, Syria.
Yildirim underscored the U.S.’s policy in Syria was tactical rather than strategic.
“We’ve been trying to explain this,” he said.
“What is unfortunate is that this tactical plan doesn’t even belong to this administration; it dates back to the previous administration,” he added.
The prime minister also separately told the BBC that Turkey’s messages will be clear during Erdogan’s visit to Washington.
“We are not going to declare war on the United States, this is not the case.
“We will say we are allies in NATO from the very beginning, so we are strategic partners. In order to fight terror in the region, you can only do it with Turkey, not with a terror organization,” he said.
“We faced a very serious coup attempt by the FETO organization. The head of this terror organization is living in the U.S. Since we are partners as we are friends and friendly countries, you should deport him as soon as legal procedures are complete.”
Turkey has pressed the U.S. to extradite Fetullah Gulen, the leader of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO blamed for a defeated coup last July that martyred 249 people and left 2,200 others injured.
“We are going to continue to fight terror organization whether its name is PKK, or PYD or YPG; doesn’t matter,” Yildirim said.
Asked if Turkey would continue to bomb the YPG in Syria if the group is armed by the U.S., Yildirim was succinct.
“Of course,” he said. “If there is a threat we certainly will do.”
The premier also praised remarks Thursday by British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon who agreed the PKK/PYD should be excluded from the Raqqah operation against Daesh.
Yildirim said Turkey proposed cooperation for a more effective fight against the PKK, that is also banned in Britain.