World Sidelined by Washington, Erdogan proposes Arab alliance to defeat Islamic State

Sidelined by Washington, Erdogan proposes Arab alliance to defeat Islamic State
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing, China, May 13, 2017. (Photo: AA)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested on Sunday an alternative plan to that of the United States which relies on the Kurdish forces in Syria in countering the Islamic State (IS) group.

Talking to Turkish press members accompanying his visit to China, Erdogan proposed a coalition of countries with the leadership of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon, and Jordan as well as NATO forces to take the fight to the IS.

"We do not need a terror group," Erdogan said referring to the US-allied Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) that American officials described as their most capable partner in Syria since the battle for the town of Kobani on the border with Turkey in 2014.

It is not clear if Erdogan's proposal of a NATO-Arab alliance to defeat the IS could materialize anytime soon since the US which leads the International Coalition sees the capture of the IS capital of Raqqa imperative as quickly as possible to avoid further attacks on Western countries' soil.

"If we are strategic allies, let's unanimously agree on a decision. Or else we will have to go on our own way," threatened Erdogan who last week said his May 16 meeting in the White House with President Donald Trump could prove to be "a breaking point" in relations between the two NATO countries.

Erdogan further claimed that Turkey was the first country to take the harshest position against the jihadists, "even before the US realized the IS as a threat."

"Had we not acted, Daesh would not have been in this teetering situation. Turkey is the country that has given the biggest struggle against this group," Erdogan went on according to the major Hurriyet newspaper.

Trump's last week authorization of providing heavy weapons to the YPG as its multi-ethnic surrogate Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) prepares to launch the final phase of an ongoing operation to capture Raqqa met with vehement objection from Erdogan.

Turkish President continued blaming the administration of the former President Barack Obama for allying with the YPG which Turkey argues is the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a group both NATO countries designate as "terrorist."

"There are Obama's teams at lower levels [of decision-making]," claimed Erdogan, accusing diplomats and generals who have also worked under Obama administration of impacting Trump's decisions.

On the criticism that Turkey for a long time failed to stop the flow of IS jihadis into Syria and join the fight against them, Erdogan again pointed finger at Obama.

"[These are] Obama administration's slanders."


Editing by Ava Homa