22 Apr, 2018
Turkish President Recep Erdogan has sharply criticized the US and other NATO allies for their support of and reliance on Kurdish militias to keep a foothold in Syria, reiterating that Ankara views them as a threat to its security.
“We cannot buy weapons from the US with our money, but unfortunately, the US and coalition forces give these weapons, this ammunition, to terrorist organizations for free,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, in an interview on Turkish channel NTV.
“So where does the threat come from? It comes primarily from strategic partners,” he stated, emphasizing that Washington continues to funnel truck- and planeloads of weapons into Northern Syria.
“The US sent 5,000 trucks loaded with weapons to northern Syria,” the Turkish leader said, reiterating concerns he repeatedly voiced before, especially following the launch of military operations in northern Syria.
On January 20, Turkey launched a cross-border offensive into Syria with the aim of dislodging Kurdish “terrorists” from Afrin. The assault, codenamed Operation Olive Branch, has strained relations between Washington and Ankara – which has since threatened to expand the operation to Manbij and beyond. The Kurdish YPG are key US allies on the ground in this area, but Ankara views them as an offshoot of the terrorist-designated Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Washington, for its part, has also been critical of Ankara’s growing “misalignment” with the West and of its cozier relations with Russia and Iran. Ankara’s decision to buy S-400 air defense systems from Russia exposes Turkey to possible US sanctions, Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell recently warned, noting that “it is in the American national interest to see Turkey remain strategically and politically aligned with the West.”
“The ease with which Turkey brokered arrangements with the Russian military to facilitate the launch of its Operation Olive Branch in the Afrin district –arrangements to which America was not privy– is gravely concerning,” he said. “Turkey lately has increased its engagement with Russia and Iran.”