Amsterdam – The United States is alarmed by the “ridiculous” rhetoric from Ankara, attacking American foreign policy and even suggesting that the US is supporting the Islamic State (ISIS).
Turkish officials have been issuing bellicose and conspiratorial statements, in response to the tacit alliance between Syrian Kurdish forces and the US-led coalition.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that Turkey would not accept the participation of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the Astana peace talks, even if the Washington insisted on it. The talks are scheduled to take place later this month in Kazakhstan.
Çavuşoğlu also called on the incoming Trump administration to end America’s cooperation with the Syrian Kurds, characterizing the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as “terrorist groups” analogous to the Al-Nusra and ISIS.
Mark Toner, the US State Department’s Deputy Spokesman, responded on Friday saying that the Washington is “alarmed by some of the rhetoric that we’ve seen from various quarters in Turkey over the past weeks.”
“I mean, the idea that the US is not actively countering Daesh, for example, is ridiculous given all that we’ve accomplished over the past year and a half in really reducing Daesh’s foothold in Syria as well as in Iraq,” countered Toner, employing another acronym for ISIS.
“The other allegations that I won’t even address or speak to, but there’s a lot of ludicrous statements out there about US involvement in incidents and terrorist incidents in Turkey that are just beyond the pale,” the American official continued. “They’re not only not true, but they’re harmful to our [US-Turkey] relationship.”
Nevertheless, Toner explained that the anti-American statements being made in Ankara will not affect the US seeing Turkey as a partner and an ally. “I mean, we’re alarmed by these statements, but […] we understand that Turkey right now is under a lot of pressure,” he said.
“The Turkish government and Turkish people have been touched by terrorism. They’ve been affected by an influx of refugees. They’ve been affected by what’s happening in Syria and they’re concerned about it,” the State Department’s representative continued.
In an op-ed published by the Washington Post on Thursday, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu wrote that “It is sadly true that the Turkey-US bilateral relationship is under severe strain […] The Turkish government hopes the new administration under Trump will repair relations with Turkey.”
However, Toner has refused to acknowledge that US-Turkish relations have worsened. “I would never say that they’ve worsened. I would say that they’ve become more complex given the events happening in Syria that, as I said, have a direct effect on Turkey.”
“We are in common cause when we’re going after Daesh. We –Turkey and the US– agree, as do many countries around the world, that Daesh needs to be rooted out and destroyed,” the American official added. “For Turkey, it’s really a tangible threat on their border.”
Turkey wants the new Trump administration to end American support for the Kurds in Syria and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that have been effectively fighting ISIS and are now encircling Raqqa–the Islamic State’s de facto capital.
However, analysts say it is unlikely the new administration will change US policy regarding the Syrian Kurds. Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, recently told a senate hearing that the Syrian Kurds are America’s greatest ally in Syria.
Prominent Syrian Kurdish officials recently visited Washington to explore the possibilities of opening a Washington office, which will likely also draw anger from Ankara.
“We don’t agree on every issue or every approach with Turkey on destroying Daesh or removing Daesh from the battlefield,” Toner concluded. “That said, we are cooperating with them. We are talking through these things and that is what mature countries and democracies do when they face these kinds of challenges.”
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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