During a trip to the Karlovy Vary region of the Czech Republic on Tuesday, the country’s President Milos Zeman said he considered Turkey a “de facto ally” of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Sputnik reported, citing the CTK news agency.
The Czech president’s remarks came a few days after Turkey announced a joint operation with Iran against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), considered a terrorist organization by Ankara as well as the US and EU.
Iran has denied any such operation took place.
“Why [do the Turks] attack the Kurds? Because they are de facto allies of the Islamic State,” Zeman said, answering a question from one of the meeting’s participants. “This means that it’s Turkey – despite the fact that it is a NATO member and seeks to join the European Union, to which it is unlikely to be accepted – that has served as a mediator in logistics operations for Islamic State supplies when [this terrorist organization] occupied a significant part of Syria and Iraq. This, for example, included oil exports [from the territory seized by terrorists] and the like.”
The Czech president has accused his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, of pursuing a policy of Islamizing his country.
“This is no longer the secular state of [Kemal] Atatürk, but a state that professes Islamic ideology, and as follows logically, that it (the state) stands close to the Islamic radicals,” Zeman alleged.
Erdoğan has yet to comment on the accusations, but Ankara has repeatedly accused the West of backing the PKK, which Ankara views as a terrorist organization, and sponsoring ISIL.
Last month, Erdoğan announced that Turkey was ready to launch an operation against the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it considers to be affiliated with the PKK, in Syria’s Manbij region if the United States did not remove the militia from there.
However, after talks with US President Donald Trump, who informed his Turkish counterpart of a US troop withdrawal from Syria, Erdoğan postponed his plans, saying that the offensive would be launched only after the complete pullout of US forces.
In January 2018 Turkey carried out an operation dubbed Olive Branch against the YPG in Afrin following the US announcement of its decision to start training a 30,000-strong border security force on Syria’s northern borders that would include the US-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
At the time, Erdoğan slammed US intentions, having accused Washington of building a “terrorist army” near Turkey’s borders and vowed to “strangle” it “before it is born.” Tensions between Turkey and the Kurds took a new turn in July 2015 when a two-year ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK collapsed after an attack allegedly perpetrated by the terrorist group.