Tensions between Ankara and Washington have further escalated over the Kurdish issue as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced last week that Ankara would launch a military operation east of the Euphrates River if the US failed to withdraw its troops from the Arab Republic in time.
“Cooperation with terrorists will lead nowhere. May we remain hungry, without food and water, but we will do everything that is necessary. The United States and all other countries should show sufficient respect for Turkey”, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlet Cavusoglu said, addressing the US president’s warning of “economic devastation” should Ankara target US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria.
“We see that Trump is under great pressure so that he does not withdraw troops from Syria, and he is in a difficult situation, but, nevertheless, it is impossible to discuss such topics via social networks”, Cavusoglu added.
Earlier in the day, Ibrahim Kalin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesperson has taken to Twitter to respond to the recent comment by the US president.
Mr @realDonaldTrump Terrorists can’t be your partners & allies. Turkey expects the US to honor our strategic partnership and doesn’t want it to be shadowed by terrorist propaganda.
There is no difference between DAESH, PKK, PYD and YPG. We will continue to fight against them all. https://t.co/Yyzgyp9RQ4
— Ibrahim Kalin (@ikalin1) January 13, 2019
“It is a fatal mistake to equate Syrian Kurds with the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party], which is on the US terrorists list, and its Syria branch PYD [Kurdish Democratic Union Party]/YPG [Kurdish People’s Protection Units]. Turkey fights against terrorists, not Kurds. We will protect Kurds and other Syrians against all terrorist threats”, he stressed.
The Turkish official’s remarks follow President Trump’s statement on Twitter in which he threatened to “devastate Turkey economically” if Ankara hits Kurdish forces in Syria.
He noted, however, that Washington doesn’t want the Kurds to provoke Turkey as well.
The US support for Kurdish militants, who have been fighting Daesh* in Syria, has been a major sticking point in relations between the two NATO allies. Turkey considers the YPG to be affiliated with the PKK, which is banned by Ankara as a terrorist organisation.
The issue has intensified since Trump declared victory over Daesh, claiming that he would withdraw some 2,000 US troops from Syria. When addressing the matter, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the US would ensure that the Turkish military does not massacre the Kurdish militants.
Additionally, the Syrian Foreign Ministry confirmed that Damascus has intensified negotiations with the Kurds amid threats of a Turkish operation.
* Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/IS/Islamic State) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia