Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he has evidence that U.S.-led coalition forces give support to terrorist groups including the Islamic State and Kurdish militant groups YPG and PYD, he said on Tuesday.
“They were accusing us of supporting Daesh (Islamic State),” he told a press conference in Ankara.
“Now they give support to terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG, PYD. It’s very clear. We have confirmed evidence, with pictures, photos and videos,” he said.
The accusation is ludicrous coming from Erdogan.
The US “backed ISIS” in the sense that it backed the Syrian rebellion of whom ISIS was a mainstream part of until early 2014.
Turkey on the other hand refused to seriously crack down on ISIS for much longer. Since the Siege of Kobani in late 2014 through entire 2015 and into mid 2016 the US was fuming at Turkey for Erdogan’s refusal to seal its border to ISIS leading the Americans to support successive Kurdish offensives in northern Syria that would seal the border from the Syrian side.
And yet Erdogan’s incendiary claim is very important — just not because of what it says about relations between Washington and ISIS, but because of what it says about relations between Washington and Ankara.
American-Turkish relations have hit rock bottom. They’ve gone from close partners in their joint enterprise of toppling Assad to mutual recriminations of backing ISIS.
Of course Erdogan’s true gripe with the US is its support for the Kurdish YPG militia, which is both America’s chief proxy army against ISIS in Syria and the Syrian franchize of the PKK militia fighting for independence of Turkish Kurds,
Russia notably escaped similar accusations for the simple fact it is nowhere as near to the YPG. Instead Erdogan has called for Saudi Arabia and Quatar to join him for January Syria talks with Russia and Iran. He has also warned, however, that Syrian Kurds better not be invited or the Russians are on their own:
Erdogan has also called on Saudi Arabia and Qatar to join Russia, Turkey and Iran in peace talks on Syria. On Tuesday, the Turkish leader said officials of these Gulf states should be included in the talks of foreign ministers in Kazakhstan next month, as their countries had “shown goodwill and given support” to Syria, AP reported.
However, the Turkish president stressed that Ankara itself would not take part should Syrian Kurdish groups – whom he called “terrorist organizations” – be invited to take part in the meeting.
The dramatic Turkish-American split is the natural consequence of them both having been forced by the Russian intervention to largely give up on their joint goal of toppling Assad.
Having given up on their regime change dreams US and Turkey have now discovered that their respective consolation goals could not be more different.
Turkey needs the Kurds on their knees to prevent a de facto PKK state in northern Syria. But the US need the Kurds to roll back ISIS and restore Americans prestige without having to sacrifice American blood.
Like it or not the NATO allies Ankara and Washington now find themselves with mutually opposing agendas in Syria. — Leading Erdogan to try his luck with the Russians and Iranians (who are battling a Kurdish insurgency themselves) instead.