Ankara's expectations from the U.S. to stop its armament of the People's Protection Units (YPG) – which is the armed wing of the PKK terrorist organization's Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) – have been shattered once again. In its 2018 budget, the U.S. Department of Defense has decided to give $500 million of weaponry, ammunition and vehicles to the YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to "fight against Daesh." In spite of Turkey's strong criticism of its cooperation with the YPG, the U.S.'s ratified defense budget will set aside half a billion dollars of military support to the SDF in Syria. In the details of the budget, it is stated that there are 25,000 armed people in the field, with an additional 5,000 people to be trained in 2018.
With the fight against Daesh in its final stages, the continuous support of the SDF, which includes YPG terrorists, has drawn sharp criticism from Ankara.
In an effort to point out the direct links between the terrorists groups at a November meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, Turkish officials gave member states documents and images showing the links between the YPG, SDF and PKK.
Speaking at the meeting, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said that the weapons given to the SDF have exceeded 3,000 truckloads. Canikli underscored that the number surpasses the necessity in the fight against Daesh, which is considered to be almost over with.
"We said that the YPG was the PKK's Syrian offshoot, they are commanded from the same place and they are bred from the same pool. We presented them with documents and photographs. We have presented this to not only the U.S., but also to Britain, Spain, Albania and other countries," he said.
The defense minister also highlighted that there is no explanation for Turkey's NATO ally to continue arming a terrorist organization.
the U.S's cooperation with PKK-affiliated YPG has been one of the thorny issues for Turkey. Ankara has repeatedly warned against the repercussions of using one terrorist group to defeat another, while the U.S. has been touting the "effective results" of its cooperation with the YPG in the fight against Daesh.
Upon the strong criticism from Turkey, U.S. President Donald Trump had promised that his country will halt providing weapons to the YPG during a phone conversation with President Erdoğan on Nov. 24. Welcoming those statements, Ankara stressed that the U.S. needs to take concrete steps and retrieve the weapons that it had provided to the terrorist group.
However, the Pentagon later stated that the U.S. was merely "reviewing pending adjustments to the military support provided to our Kurdish partners." Spokesman Eric Pahon said the U.S. would "continue partnership with the SDF."
The contradicting statements from Pentagon and Trump failed to alleviate the concerns of Ankara, which underlines that the weapons that are provided to the YPG will eventually be transferred to PKK terrorists and used against Turkey.
In a statement, the Pentagon has said the heavy weapons will be retrieved from the YPG as the fight against Daesh nears its end.
Meanwhile, Joseph Votel, the head of the U.S. Central Command in Syria and Curtis Scaparotti, U.S. European Commander held talks yesterday with Turkey's Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar in an effort to ease Turkey's concerns regarding the issue.
Turkey expects the U.S. to end its partnership with terrorist groups and retrieve all the weapons that might pose security threats. In relation to the issue, the U.S. commanders reportedly informed the Turkish side about the steps that will be taken.