Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in a phone call on Tuesday, attempted to persuade US President Donald Trump to abandon a proposal backed by the US military to arm Kurdish fighters for an assault on Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), saying that such a move would damage Turkey’s military efforts as well as the strained relations between the two countries.
The Washington Post reported on the call on Wednesday and said that according to Turkish and American officials, Trump was “noncommittal,” saying that “additional consultations [are] needed on the Kurdish question.”
“President Donald J. Trump today spoke by phone with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey about the close, long-standing relationship between the United States and Turkey and their shared commitment to combating terrorism in all its forms. President Trump reiterated U.S. support to Turkey as a strategic partner and NATO ally, and welcomed Turkey’s contributions to the counter-ISIS (or ISIL) campaign,” the White House readout said on Tuesday night.
While Turkey considers the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as extensions of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and designates them as terrorist groups, Washington backs the YPG militia in the fight against ISIL, which has drawn strong criticism from Ankara.
On various occasions last year, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and President Erdoğan all said the US had supported terrorists against Turkey by arming groups such as the YPG.
Washington rejected the Turkish allegations and said the US is supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces, mainly consisting of YPG militia, in its fight against ISIL.