Erdogan hints at military action against YPG

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the Belt and Road Forum at the China National Convention Center (CNCC) in Beijing, in this photo taken on May 14, 2017. (AP)
Updated 19 May 2017

Erdogan hints at military action against YPG

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted at possible retaliation against the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in a speech to Turkish business group TUSIAD on Thursday,.
Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist organization affiliated to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a bloody decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.
Erdogan said during his meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House, he notified him that Turkey would “exercise its rights under the rules of engagement” without consulting anyone.
“We are facing a picture where terrorist organizations are constantly supported, strengthened and are confronting us. Turkey is not a country that will consent to such treatment,” Erdogan said.
Turkey refuses to take part in the anti-Daesh coalition’s impending Raqqa operation if the YPG participates.
The US considers the group a reliable and strong partner on the ground in its anti-Daesh efforts.
Last year, Turkey carried out Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria against Daesh and the YPG. Erdogan said Turkey would not hesitate to conduct similar operations when necessary.
Galip Dalay, senior associate fellow on Turkey and Kurdish affairs at Al-Jazeera Center for Studies, and research director at Al-Sharq Forum, told Arab News that if Erdogan carries out this threat, it will likely undermine the stability of the Raqqa operation.
But Dalay said he does not expect a sustained military operation similar to Euphrates Shield to be undertaken in other parts of Syria.
“The conditions aren’t in place for such an operation. We might witness some short-lived cross-border firing or operations. The symbolic significance will be higher than the real military or geopolitical impact,” Dalay said.
Dalay added that the US will try its best to defuse tensions between the YPG and Turkey.
“I don’t think we’ll witness the kind of fighting between Turkey and the YPG that occurred between Turkey and Daesh during Operation Euphrates Shield, because any clash with the YPG would lead to full-fledged battles on many fronts such as Turkey, Syria and Iraq,” Dalay said.
“I sensed some toning down in Erdogan’s discourse on the YPG when he said Turkey will react if the YPG targets Turkey,” Dalay added. “That means a reactive response rather than a proactive assault on the YPG.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the US provided Turkey with guarantees that heavy weapons given to the YPG will only be used to liberate Raqqa from Daesh, not against Turkey under any circumstances.
Experts expect military action in Shingal, a PKK-occupied town in northern Iraq near the Turkish border.
Last month, Turkish warplanes carried out a wave of airstrikes against Kurdish positions in Iraq and northern Syria.
The YPG in Syria and the Peshmerga in Iraq, which are part of the anti-Daesh coalition, said their forces were targeted in the strikes.
“Such an operation (in Shingal) will probably have the blessing of the US and the KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party), maybe not that overtly,” Dalay said.


US lawmakers set measure opposing Trump on Syria troop withdrawal

In this file photo taken on September 8, 2019 US troops walk past a Turkish military vehicle during a joint patrol with Turkish troops in the Syrian village of al-Hashisha on the outskirts of Tal Abyad town along the border with Turkish troops. (AFP)
Updated 10 min 31 sec ago

US lawmakers set measure opposing Trump on Syria troop withdrawal

  • Senate and House aides said lawmakers were working on legislation to impose stiffer sanctions on Turkey, hoping to force Turkish President Erdogan to halt his military campaign in northeastern Syria

WASHINGTON: US Democratic lawmakers, joined by some of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans, introduced a resolution on Tuesday opposing Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from Syria, the latest sign of deep disapproval in Congress of his action.
“We have always maintained that, while certainly needed, a sanctions package alone is insufficient for reversing this humanitarian disaster,” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement introducing the resolution.
In addition to Pelosi and Schumer, the resolution was led by Representatives Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Mike McCaul, the committee’s top Republican.
It also is backed by Senators Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Todd Young, a Republican member of that panel.
Senate and House aides said lawmakers were working on legislation to impose stiffer sanctions on Turkey, hoping to force Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to halt his military campaign in northeastern Syria.
Several sanctions bills were introduced in the Senate and House, supported by Democrats and some of Trump’s fellow Republicans, before Trump said he would impose sanctions.
Trump announced a set of sanctions on Monday to punish Ankara, and a senior Trump administration official said on Tuesday that Washington would threaten more sanctions to persuade Turkey to reach a cease-fire and halt its offensive. The measures — mainly a hike in steel tariffs and a pause in trade talks — were less robust than financial markets had anticipated. Trump’s critics derided them as too feeble to have an impact, and the Turkish currency recovered.