MESOP Turkey Feature: Ankara Presses US Over Syrian Kurdish YPG Militia

February 19 – by Scott Lucas – eaworldview – Turkey has maintained pressure on the US over Washington’s support of the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG, following Wednesday’s deadly car bombing in Ankara and the Kurdish advance against rebels in northern Syria.Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu accused Washington of making contradictory statements, declaring:Resorting to terrorist groups like the YPG in the fight against Daesh [the Islamic State] in Syria is above all a sign of weakness.

Everyone must stop this mistake. In particular our ally the United States must stop this mistake immediately.President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on the US to decide whether it considers the Turkish Government or the Syrian Kurdistan Democratic Union Party (PYD), the political umbrella for the YPG, its ally in the region.Turkey maintains that the PYD and YPG are led by the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK, which has waged an armed campaign for independence for more than 30 years.However, the US has switched support from Syrian rebels to Kurdish-led forces, believing that they are more effective in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria.

Erdoğan restated on Friday that the Syrian Kurds are responsible for Wednesday’s explosion that killed 28 people and wounded 61. “The perpetrator is the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD) and the YPG. We have no doubt about that,” he told reporters after prayers in Ankara.Erdoğan accused Western countries of failing to name the YPG as a “terrorist organization”, asking:

Why have the PYD and YPG not been declared as terror organizations while the PKK has? The insistence of the West on not understanding us makes us sad.

The President said he would speak with Barack Obama later in the day.Amid the criticism, Ankara offered one sign of possible reconciliation. Çavuşoğlu said, after a conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry: My friend Kerry has said the YPG cannot be trusted…,We were glad to hear from John Kerry yesterday that his views on the YPG have partly changed.On Thursday, State Department spokesperson John Kirby was cautious about Ankara’s claims over YPG involvement in the car bombing: “We’re in no position to confirm or deny the assertions made by the Turkish government with respect to responsibility.”