ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday hosted his Iranian and Russian counterparts Hassan Rouhani and Vladimir Putin in Ankara to further their cooperation in war-torn Syria.
In response to a question at a joint press conference following the trilateral summit, Rouhani said US President Donald Trump’s declaration that he wanted American troops out of Syria proved that Washington was “after money.”
“Americans say different things every day. We cannot trust the current American administration’s words or actions. They said they are not to stay long in Syria. But they are telling Arabs to pay. They are after money, and they are willing to stay if Arab countries pay them,” the Iranian President said.
Erdogan commented on Rouhani’s answer during the televised event.
“My brother Rouhani is not saying the amount of money needed. About seven billion dollars—pardon, seven trillion dollars have been spent there. That is a lot of investment,” the Turkish President said.
He was apparently referring to an amount of money successive US administrations have spent in military operations in the Middle East.
Last week, Trump ordered the freezing of some 200 million dollars of promised aid for Kurdish-held areas in Syria liberated from the Islamic State (IS) with the help of the US-led Coalition, arguing “others” should take care of it.
The US President’s remarks created concern among Washington’s Kurdish-led allies who in Afrin faced a Russian-approved invasion by Turkey and now fear abandonment.
Ankara has stepped up threats to wipe them out from all of Syrian Kurdistan, including Manbij where US forces remain in a standoff against Turkish troops and militants the latter supports.
Fearing a growing Iranian expansion and influence, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman warned against any US withdrawal, saying troops should stay there for longer in an interview with Time Magazine.
Trump in return asked Saudis to pay for the military missions.
However, Erdogan, too, asked for more funds from Europeans as part of a deal the EU and Ankara reached in 2016 to stem the flow of Syrian refugees and migrants into the continent by aiding them at the camps along the Turkish-Syrian border.
“The EU had promised three million Euros. But not all of this has reached the relevant authorities [in Turkey],” Erdogan said in remarks complaining of Brussels’ handling of the crisis.
The Ankara summit was held as a continuation of a series of talks the trio launched last year in Kazakhstan’s Astana to find a solution to the war in Syria where Turkey for years backed Islamist rebels to topple President Bashar al-Assad’s regime supported by Iran and Russia.
Kurds’ coming to prominence as US partners in the fight against IS shifted Turkey’s anti-Assad policy to an alignment with the Syrian President’s backers.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany