Turkish FM: US will be state sponsor of terrorism if it arms Kurds in Syria

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Tuesday warned that the US would become a state sponsor of terrorism if presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s administration were to supply arms to Kurdish groups in northern Syria.

Speaking on television on Tuesday, Çavuşoğlu said: “The US is becoming a country that supports terrorism. Let me caution them. We are speaking as a friend.”

Responding to Clinton’s remarks in Sunday’s presidential debate in which the Democratic nominee and front-runner said she would consider arming Kurdish fighters – referring to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) – against the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Çavuşoğlu underlined that in that case the US would become a country that cooperates and works with terrorists.

Turkey considers the YPG militia to be the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a 32-year insurgency in Turkey that has killed more than 40,000 people. The PKK has been designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU.

When asked about how she would deal with the terror situation in Syria, Clinton said she would consider arming the Kurds. “The Kurds have been our best partners in Syria, as well as Iraq. And I know there’s a lot of concern about that in some circles, but I think they should have the equipment they need so that Kurdish and Arab fighters on the ground are the principal way that we take Raqqa after pushing ISIS [ISIL] out of Iraq,” she said.

“We, as an objective country that knows the facts especially in our region, tell the US about its mistakes [concerning the region]. We tell it about its mistakes concerning the YPG and Iraq. We will also continue to tell it about its mistakes,” Çavuşoğlu added.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also criticized the US, saying: “Clinton has said she would support Kurds in the region, terrorist organizations, with arms if she is elected. What does that mean? Is the US not our ally? What does it mean to support them with arms?”

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