MESOP : US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki slams Erdogan – U.S. pro humanitarian support to Syria’s Kobani

WASHINGTON,— Zaman / MESOP – 4 Feb 2015 – The United States has said it will continue to provide humanitarian support to the war-torn Kurdish town of Kobani in Syrian Kurdistan in response to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s critical remarks over the US policy on Syria. “The United States remains the largest provider of humanitarian assistance in the world. We’ve provided that assistance across Syria. That will continue. We also have conveyed that we continue,” US Department of State Spokesperson Jen Psaki said at a daily press briefing on Monday.

Last week, Erdogan slammed the US-led coalition for destroying Kobani via bombardments targeting the Islamic State group IS militants attacks in and around the Kurdish city, saying: “Who will rebuild the places you have bombed? No one is considering what will happen in the future. Will 200,000 refugees return, and if they do, where will they live?”

Psaki also underlined that the US will continue to work with the anti-IS coalition to continue to restrain IS’s efforts in the region.

When asked to comment on arms the US sent to the Kurdish militants, Psaki said: “We air-dropped some assistance that was intended to fight against IS. Beyond that, you know where our designations are in that regard. That hasn’t changed.”Erdogan also asserted that the US doesn’t want to make moves that target the Syrian regime. “It [the US] says [toppling the Assad regime] is not among its targets. Without that happening, there will be no solution. What would happen? The same thing that happened in Iraq. We don’t want a new Iraq. What is this? Northern Iraq [exists already]… [We don’t want] a ‘northern Syria’ to appear! It is not possible for us to accept this,” he said. “I know the burden on Turkey is heavy. We have to keep our stance [firm] on this issue. Otherwise… there will be a ‘northern Syria.’ These formations will cause large problems in the future,” he concluded.

When asked whether the US would recognize a self-governing part of Syria, Psaki said: “We don’t, and that has long been our policy.” – Erdogan also pointed to three Kurdish autonomous administrations formed by Kurds in Syrian Kurdistan in January 2014, and scolded the US for only placing importance on Kobani.

“There is also this perspective — Afrin, Kobani, Qamishli — this arrangement in that area is also meaningful. Because we are telling them, ‘Why don’t you turn toward Aleppo?’ They are not paying any attention to Aleppo,” Erdoğan said.The Turkish president reported that he had asked US President Barack Obama why Kobani is so strategic for Washington, who replied that if IS were to maintain control the town, it would say it defeated the coalition powers. “There is no [longer a] settled community there; 200,000 people have crossed over to our [the Turkish] side [of the border]. There are fighters there. We told [the US], ‘Don’t drop these bombs, you are making a mistake.’ Unfortunately, despite this conversation, they dropped whatever was necessary, and half of [the weapons] have beeb seized by Daesh [another name used to refer IS/ISIS/ISIL]. So, who is feeding Daesh?” Erdogan asked. He stressed that the weapons dropped by the US-led coalition and seized by ISIL consist of heavy artillery, and that the weapons may create problems in the future.

“Aleppo is of major importance to us. The [Syrian] regime has been bombing Aleppo. There are 1.2 million people there. The city has history, culture and civilization. It is [being] badly destroyed. I hope the Americans revise their opinions and find the right strategy,” Erdogan added.In his remarks, Erdoğan also ruled out any change on Turkey’s Syria policy. “Our policy toward Syria is obvious. We have not considered changing it. Our target is the [Syrian] regime. [The country] doesn’t work with the Assad regime [in power]. Syrian opposition forces have also stated this many times. I have told [US Vice President Joe] Biden and Obama that three things needs to take place: one, a no-fly zone; two, a safe zone; and three, training and equipping [the opposition forces],” he said. The anti-IS US-led coalition hopes to use Incirlik Air Base, in Turkey, for operations against IS militants. However, Turkey wants a comprehensive strategy before it gives stronger support to the campaign. Turkey and the US have agreed to train and equip moderate Syrian forces on Turkish soil, but disagreements on other issues remain. Turkey’s calls for a no-fly-zone and safe zone in northern Syria and the toppling of Assad’s regime have received the cold shoulder from the US, which currently has no appetite for a war against Assad, saying a no-fly zone against Syria’s air force is not an option.