World US-Turkey relations at breaking point: Erdogan

US-Turkey relations at breaking point: Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the opening ceremony of Eurasia Tunnel in Istanbul, Turkey, December 20, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

ERBIL, Kurdistan24 (Kurdistan24) - An upcoming White House meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan will prove to be a 'breaking point,' said the latter on Friday.

Erdogan's comments come as the relationship between his country and the US became strained as heavy American weapons began to flow to Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

Addressing a press conference in Ankara ahead of his flight to China, Erdogan said he wanted to see all the information related to Trump's authorization for the Pentagon to provide arms to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), saying that until then, they remain "rumors."

Erdogan rationalized his approach by pointing out that the US "was still in a transition period," putting the blame on former President Barack Obama's policies vis-a-vis the Syrian Kurds, according to Kurdistan24's Ankara Bureau.

Trump's approval of the Pentagon's plan to ship heavy arms and armored vehicles to the YPG came as Erdogan's top three men, including his Army Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar, Head of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Hakan Fidan and Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin were in DC to dissuade Americans from doing so.

YPG's designation as a "terrorist group" by Turkey complicates relations with the US, whose officials view the Syrian Kurdish US-ally in the war on IS as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

PKK, which both NATO allies consider a terrorist group, has been waging a decades-long guerrilla warfare against Turkish troops for greater Kurdish rights.

"These developments contravene our strategic agreements with the US," said Erdogan who reiterated his threat that Turkey could attack the YPG "suddenly, one night."

Erdogan claimed his country, and not the YPG, was the one leading "the most effective fight" against IS.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu argued on Wednesday that every weapon given to the YPG was a "threat to Turkey," a charge the Kurdish commander Nesrin Abdullah rejected Thursday in an interview with Kurdistan24.

Last April, Turkey conducted airstrikes despite US objections on YPG positions near the town of Derik in northeast Syria, where at least 20 Kurdish fighters were killed.

Airstrikes which also targeted PKK affiliates and the Kurdistan Region's Peshmerga forces in Sinjar in neighboring Iraq led to the US stationing American troops' to patrol the Turkey-Syria border in an attempt to de-escalate the situation.

Images of US soldiers alongside Kurdish fighters "saddened" Erdogan as his chief advisor Ilnur Cevik threatened that the Americans could also "accidentally" be the target of Turkish rockets.

In a Friday column in the pro-government Yeni Birlik newspaper, Cevik who has since corrected his remarks suggested the US should "be thankful to Erdogan for his goodwill and patience."

"Those testing our President's patience always end up losers. This applies to the US as well."

 

Editing by G.H. Renaud