Er­do­gan says US fund­ing of Syr­ian YPG mili­tia to im­pact Tur­key’s de­ci­sions

Iran Daily - - Front Page -

A de­ci­sion by the United States to con­tinue to fund the Syr­ian Kur­dish YPG mili­tia will af­fect Tur­key’s fu­ture moves, Pres­i­dent Tayyip Er­do­gan said on Tues­day, ahead of a visit this week by US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son.

US of­fi­cials have said that Tiller­son ex­pects to have dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions when he vis­its Tur­key on Thurs­day and Fri­day, given that the NATO al­lies have starkly di­verg­ing in­ter­ests in Syria, Reuters wrote.

Tur­key has been en­raged by US sup­port for the Syr­ian Kur­dish YPG mili­tia, which Ankara sees as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion and an ex­ten­sion of the out­lawed Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Party (PKK). Wash­ing­ton has backed the YPG in the fight against the Daesh ter­ror group in Syria.

“Our ally’s de­ci­sion to give fi­nan­cial sup­port to the YPG... will surely af­fect the de­ci­sions we will take,” Er­do­gan said in a speech to mem­bers of his rul­ing AK Party in Par­lia­ment.

His com­ments fol­lowed the re­lease of the US Depart­ment of De­fense’s 2019 bud­get, which in­cludes re­quests for funds to train and equip lo­cal forces in Syria.

The Pen­tagon re­quested $300 mil­lion for Syr­ian “train and equip ac­tiv­i­ties” and $250 mil­lion for bor­der se­cu­rity re­quire­ments, ac­cord­ing to a copy of the bud­get. While it did not spec­ify how much of this, if any, was ear­marked for Yp­gled forces, Turk­ish me­dia in­ter­preted that to mean that the Pen­tagon had al­lo­cated $550 mil­lion to the YPG in 2019.

“It will be bet­ter for them not to stand with the ter­ror­ists they sup­port to­day. I am call­ing on the peo­ple of the United States, this money is com­ing out of the bud­get of the United States, it is com­ing out of peo­ple’s pock­ets.”

Tur­key last month launched an in­cur­sion into Syria, which it calls “Op­er­a­tion Olive Branch” to sweep the YPG from its south­ern bor­der. It has also threat­ened to press on to the Syr­ian town of Man­bij, un­der the con­trol of a Ypg-led force, and has warned Amer­i­can troops sta­tioned there not to get in the way.

Wash­ing­ton says it has no plans to with­draw its sol­diers from Man­bij and two US com­man­ders vis­ited the town last week to re­in­force that mes­sage.

“It is very clear that those who say ‘we will re­spond ag­gres­sively if you hit us’ have never ex­pe­ri­enced an Ot­toman slap,” Er­do­gan said in par­lia­ment.

That was an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to com­ments made by US Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Paul Funk dur­ing a visit to Man­bij. A se­nior French For­eign Min­istry of­fi­cial de­fended Iran’s mis­sile pro­gram amid Wash­ing­ton’s pres­sure on the Is­lamic Repub­lic to aban­don its mis­sile ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Iran’s mis­sile ac­tiv­i­ties, which are aimed at de­fend­ing the coun­try, are le­git­i­mate,” Justin Vaïsse, the head of the French For­eign Min­istry’s Cen­ter for Anal­y­sis, Plan­ning and Strat­egy, said dur­ing a meet­ing with, Alaed­din Borou­jerdi, chair­man of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity and For­eign Pol­icy Com­mit­tee of the Ira­nian Par­lia­ment in Tehran.

The French of­fi­cial also called for pre­serv­ing the his­toric nu­clear deal, known as the Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Ac­tion (JCPOA), which was reached be­tween Iran and ma­jor world pow­ers in 2015.

The French of­fi­cial said a “log­i­cal” way must be fol­lowed up in a bid to main­tain the JCPOA.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump claims that Iran’s de­vel­op­ment of bal­lis­tic mis­siles is in breach of the nu­clear agree­ment it has struck with the P+1 group (the US, the UK, France, China, Rus­sia and Ger­many) and a UN res­o­lu­tion that en­dorses it.

Trump has been pres­sur­ing France, the UK and Ger­many to rec­tify what he calls the “sig­nif­i­cant flaws” of the deal.

Iran has re­peat­edly said its mis­sile pro­gram has a de­fen­sive and de­ter­rent na­ture and that the coun­try’s mis­sile ca­pa­bil­i­ties have so far played an “ef­fec­tive” role in im­prov­ing re­gional peace and sta­bil­ity.

Tehran has also stressed that the JCPOA will re­main non-ne­go­tiable.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, Borou­jerdi de­manded that the Euro­pean Union adopt a more “se­ri­ous” stance against Wash­ing­ton’s anti-iran de­ci­sions.

He blamed re­gional cri­sis on the US policies in the Mid­dle East which aim to “al­ter the po­lit­i­cal struc­ture of re­gional coun­tries”.

The Ira­nian par­lia­men­tar­ian stressed that such policies are doomed to fail­ure.

Justin Vaïsse

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