Turkey-U.S. relations are not tense because of evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson's case, they were already strained due to issues related to the PKK's Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG), and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said yesterday.
Speaking at Anadolu Agency's Editor's Desk, Çavuşoğlu said the current situation of Turkey-U.S. ties has been shaped by the country's support for the YPG in northern Syria and the U.S. stance on FETÖ - long before Brunson, who was being charged in Turkey with terrorism-linked crimes but released earlier this month from house arrest. Brunson was arrested in December 2016 and charged in the Aegean province of Izmir for being a suspected member of FETÖ, the group behind a defeated coup earlier that year. After being transferred this July from jail to house arrest, he was sentenced to just over three years in prison but released on time served and his good behavior in custody. The case initially caused a major diplomatic rift between Turkey and the U.S. However, the real reason behind the rift was the case's connection with the U.S. stance on the YPG and FETÖ.
Turkey has been criticizing the U.S. for its silence over both the YPG and FETÖ for quite some time now. As the PKK terror campaign has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths in Turkey, American support for its Syrian offshoot has long vexed Ankara. Calling the YPG-led umbrella group, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a "reliable partner" in its fight against Daesh, Washington continues to provide it with arms and equipment, even as Turkey stresses its terrorist identity. The U.S.'s apparent reluctance to extradite Fetullah Gülen, the most wanted criminal in Turkey, remains a deep rift in relations between the two countries. Ankara had formally requested Gülen be extradited on July 19, 2016. However, Turkish officials believe that there was insufficient progress on the matter since. In relation to the issue, the foreign minister called on the U.S. to take action against FETÖ, saying it was "unacceptable" that the U.S. continues to host the terror group that attempted a coup in Turkey.
Turkey has shared all its documents on FETÖ with teams from the U.S. Department of State and the FBI, which launched an investigation on the group and came to Ankara, Çavusoğlu added. Gülen, who arrived in the U.S. in 1999, currently resides in a luxurious retreat in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. He was already facing criminal investigations related to his group when the coup attempt took place in 2016.
Turkey pressed the U.S. for his extradition after the coup attempt, sending hundreds of folders full of evidence implicating Gülen and FETÖ in the coup attempt. The issue was raised in bilateral meetings between Turkish and American officials, in phone calls, letters and other exchanges, yet, they failed to reach any conclusion.
U.S. envoy on Syria visits Manbij
Çavuşoğlu added that Turkey will not allow the YPG to take part in the Syrian constitutional committee, which will be established under the U.N.'s watch. Meanwhile, the U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey paid a visit to northern Syria's Manbij on Monday, a Kurdish official from the Manbij Military Council, which administers the town, said.
According to what official shared with The Associated Press (AP), the U.S. envoy met with the members of the SDF in Manbij, where U.S. and Turkish troops could begin conducting joint patrols soon as a final step of what has been agreed by the two NATO allies in June.
Ankara and Washington agreed on a road map that includes Manbij patrols in June to defuse tensions as well as to meet Turkey's demands for the withdrawal of YPG militia in the region. The Monday visit came after Gen. Joseph Votel, chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), said the soldier's training is expected to last several more days before starting to conduct joint patrols
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.