MESOP NEWS : Trump to Erdogan: No Decision Yet on Arming Syrian Kurds / THE “PKK-QUESTION”

Basnews English – 09 February 2017 – ERBIL — During the first phone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump, the two leaders discussed their “shared commitment to combatting terrorism in all its forms,” according to a statement by the White House.  Trump acknowledged Turkey’s efforts in the battle against the Islamic State (IS), and “reiterated US support to Turkey as a strategic partner and NATO ally, and welcomed Turkey’s contributions to the counter-ISIS campaign,” closed the White House statement. According to Turkish sources, Erdogan also discussed the need for the creation of a safe zone in Syria and the need to fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which it considers to be a “terrorist organization”.

Likewise, Erdogan requested that US cease supporting the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which are part of the US-led offensive to retake Raqqa. Turkey considers the YPG to be an affiliate of the PKK.

Reportedly, Erdogan attempted to persuade Trump to not go through with the proposal to arm Kurdish fighters in Raqqa. However, Trump said that further consultations and deliberation would be necessary before reaching a decision on the matter.Erdogan has been repeatedly speaking against the US support for the Kurdish fighters in the Raqqa offensive, instead proposing their replacement with Turkish soldiers and Turkish-backed Arab fighters. This issue has been a source of some tension between Turkey and the Obama administration.   According to Turkish sources, the two leaders agreed to cooperate in the fight against the Islamic State in Raqqa.  Further details about this joint action plan have not been given.