Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has reacted to a US decision to provide arms to the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), saying it is unacceptable, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday.
“Any initiative to support the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which Turkey see as the main body of the YPG] directly or indirectly is unacceptable to us,” said Yıldırım in Ankara before leaving for an official visit to Britain.
Yıldırım also underlined that “Ankara cannot imagine the US choosing between a strategic partnership with Turkey and a terrorist organization.”
Describing the the decision as a “crisis,” Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık said on Wednesday: “We made a clear proposal to the US. We would like them to seriously evaluate it. We are still waiting.”
In the first official reaction to the US decision, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Wednesday that “the YPG and the PKK are both terrorist organizations, there is no difference — only the name is different, and every weapon they obtain is a threat to Turkey.”
A week ahead of his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved a plan to provide arms to Kurdish militia in Syria, a key US ally in the fight against ISIL and considered critical in the drive to recapture Raqqa, the terrorist group’s de facto capital.
“The (Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)), partnered with enabling support from U.S. and coalition forces, are the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future,” chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said in a statement, as reported by NBC News on Tuesday.
NATO ally Turkey, however, views the YPG – part of the SDF — as an extension of the PKK, which has fought a four-decade-long war for autonomy within Turkish borders in which more than 40,000 people have been killed. The PKK has been designated a terrorist organization by the US and the EU as well as Ankara.