ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday stepped up threats of a potential confrontation with the US Army backing the Kurdish forces in Syrian Kurdistan.
Speaking to a weekly parliamentary convention of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara, Erdogan said American generals defying Ankara’s calls to withdraw from the Kurdish-held town of Manbij in northern Syria were yet to receive an Ottoman slap.
The “Ottoman slap” was a potentially fatal martial arts technique used in close combat by Asappes, unmarried paid soldiers, in case they became unarmed while leading assaults on enemy positions in conquests into Europe from the 16th century onward.
Its cultural significance as a form of military superiority to Westerners persists for the Turks with frequent evocations at times of foreign policy crises.
State TV TRT produced a series in 2013 titled “Ottoman slap,” retelling the story of the Turkish capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire Constantinople, the modern-day Istanbul.
Erdogan said if the American military officials who insisted the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) had no ties with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were not blind or stupid, they were “malicious.”
Last week, US General Lt. Gen. Paul Funk told The New York Times that if Turkey hit them during a trip to northern Syria, a region Americans have expressed commitment for to prevent a re-emergence of the Islamic State (IS), they would “respond aggressively” and “defend ourselves.”
Funk’s comments came a day after Erdogan had told the Americans “to get out” of Manbij, a flashpoint population center he has vowed to return to its “true owners, Arabs.”
“I don’t worry,” Funk said when asked by the Associated Press about Turkish threats, “It’s not in my job description to worry, my job is to fight.”
“No country, no organization dares to question Turkey’s power and determination now,” Erdogan had said.
US troops deployed near the territory controlled by the Turkish army and its Islamist proxies continue to act as a de facto peace-keeping force at frontlines between their NATO ally and YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) partners.
Over the weekend, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that his country’s ties with the US were at a make or break point.
He had earlier claimed Washington was backing the YPG because it shared the same “Marxist, communist, atheist” ideology.
Turkish anger over US support for the SDF has been brewing even after Ankara launched its attempted invasion of the besieged Kurdish enclave of Afrin, west of Manbij, where Americans have no presence.
Turkish airstrikes and ground shelling have killed up to 180 civilians, wounded over 350, and displaced more than 60,000 people, Kurdish officials from Afrin revealed.
“They have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said of the US, quoting a Quranic verse about disbelievers.
He sounded confident that the US was going to abandon its partners who defeated IS in Manbij and Raqqa.
“Snow will soon fall over the mountains you trust,” he said.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany