New page in Ankara-Washington ties needed to overcome conflicts of interest

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 28.04.2017 21:45
Updated 28.04.2017 23:41
Underscoring that Washington should show the necessary solidarity with Ankara, Erdoğan said that U.S.'s collaboration with terrorist groups is not acceptable.
Underscoring that Washington should show the necessary solidarity with Ankara, Erdoğan said that U.S.'s collaboration with terrorist groups is not acceptable.

With relations at a historic low, Ankara and Washington are expected turn a new page in Turkish-American relations as President Erdoğan said the two countries are capable of achieving a lot more by joining forces

Stressing that he has received signals that Trump will show a more determined attitude in keeping up ties, Erdoğan said: "We will find the opportunity to deal with all our problems in our meeting with Trump. There are sensitive issues in our bilateral relations."

Erdoğan asserted that both countries have already seen what the two nations are capable of achieving by working together. "High-level contact with the Trump administration has been intensifying since January 2017," he added.Underscoring that Turkey's "American friends" should show the necessary solidarity with Turkey, Erdoğan said that Ankara does not accept the U.S.'s collaboration with terrorist groups. "Similarly, it disturbs our nation that the mastermind of the July 15 coup attempt still continues terrorist activities in Pennsylvania," he asserted. "The arrest and extradition of the FETÖ leader to Turkey is our expectation," Erdoğan said.

Also commenting on the PKK's Syrian wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is backed by the United States on the ground in Syria, Erdoğan said that the allies should learn from Turkey about what the PYD and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG) really are.

Pointing to the YPG's attacks on Turkish borders over the last couple of days, Erdoğan said that Turkey couldn't look on. Reiterating that Ankara will not allow the formation of a new state along Turkey's southern border, Erdoğan said that Turkey is determined in the anti-terror fight.

The Turkish General Staff said security forces on Tuesday carried out counterterrorism airstrikes at about 2:00 a.m. PKK targets located on Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq and Karacok Mountain in northeastern Syria were hit to prevent the terrorist group from sending terrorists, arms, ammunition and explosives to Turkey, the statement said.

Recently, Turkish authorities have repeatedly asserted that the PKK would be targeted by the Turkish military if it did not leave the Sinjar area.

The YPG on Thursday attacked the Turkish military with mortar and missile fire from the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad. A mortar round landed on a tank stationed near a military outpost located between the Turkish districts of Suruç and Akçakale, facing the Syrian districts of Kobani and Tal Abyad across the border.

No damage or injuries were reported on the Turkish side. Turkish units stationed in the area responded with artillery and tank fire. Later on the same day, military sources stated that YPG terrorists had attacked 11 Turkish border stations 13 times.

Commenting on the issue, Can Acun, a researcher of Middle Eastern politics at the SETA Foundation, said that the PYD and the PKK are trying to take control of the area between the Qandil Mountains and Afrin and cut off Turkey's connection with the Arab-Islam world.

Stressing that the PYD was formed by order of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, Acun said that it is crucial for Turkey to eradicate the YPG threat from Sinjar for the sake of its national security.

The expert contended that relations between the two countries could suddenly steer into crisis if the U.S. continues to support the PKK and the YPG.

In the wake of Turkey's counterterror operation in northern Syria and Iraq, U.S. commanders recently visited an area bombed by the Turkish military accompanied by Redur Xelil, the so-called spokesman of the YPG, and senior PKK militant Şahin, a man on the Turkish Interior Ministry's most wanted terrorist list with a bounty of TL 4 million ($1.3 million). Şahin was seen briefing U.S. commanders with the help of an interpreter during the tour.

The president reacted to the incident. Stressing that the U.S.'s support to the YPG damages the spirit of alliance between the two countries, Erdoğan said that there are no good or bad terrorist groups.

Meanwhile, Mark Toner, who is currently acting as the deputy spokesman for the Trump administration, said that Turkey's airstrikes against the PKK in Syria and Iraq risked the lives of U.S. soldiers. "We clearly expressed our deep concerns regarding the Turkish government's actions at the highest level," he said.

Criticizing the U.S.'s preference to work with the YPG on the ground, Erdoğan said: "Now Turkey, the Free Syrian Army, along with the coalition led by America, can clear these 2,500-5,000 terrorists. It's not difficult for us, and we will succeed."

Erdoğan and Trump are scheduled to meet on May 16 in Washington.

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