Erdogan, Mattis discuss US backing for PYD, KRG referendum

24 Aug 2017 – Kurdpress – The U.S.’s ongoing support for the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) dominated Pentagon chief Jim Mattis’s talks in Ankara on Aug. 23, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan complaining about Washington’s policy, a Turkish official has told the Hurriyet Daily News.

In talks with Mattis, Ankara reportedly expressed unease over increasing armed support from the U.S. to the YPG fighters. According to Hurriyet daily Mattis sought to assuage Turkey’s security concerns, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official referred to the fact that the U.S.’s special envoy for the anti-IS coalition, Brett McGurk, who drew condemnation from the Turkish government over his “proximity” to the YPG fighters, was absent from the American delegation during the talks in Ankara, despite the fact that he accompanied Mattis for discussions in Iraq the previous day.

Mattis met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and also had talks with Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli.

The U.S. promised Turkey to provide the serial number and delivery addresses of all arms sent to the YPG, as Turkey said it would monitor the process, presidential sources told the Hurriyet Daily News.

Turkey stressed that Arabs should be administer Raqqa, not Kurds, after the city is totally cleared of IS, a stance that the U.S. also agrees with, they added.

The “joint struggle” against the PKK in the Kandil and Sinjar regions in northern Iraq and cooperation on the defense industry were also on the agenda, presidential sources stated, with the parties agreeing on closer cooperation between security units on the issue.The two sides also agreed on protecting the territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq and on the continued presence of Turkish military units in Afghanistan. According to the report Erdogan stressed that a referendum for independence by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) would be a wrong step, according to presidential sources, adding that the issues of Iran and Russia were not discussed during the meeting.