Turkey hits back at Trump threats over Kurds

Ankara (Turkey) (AFP) – Turkey on Monday vowed it will not be intimidated by US President Donald Trump’s threats of financial devastation if Ankara assaults Kurdish forces as American troops withdraw.

Trump’s risk got here after Ankara repeatedly threatened a brand new cross-border operation towards the Kurdish Individuals’s Safety Models (YPG), which have been working intently with the US within the warfare on Islamic State (IS) extremists.

US assist to the YPG has been a serious supply of pressure between the NATO allies.

“We’ve stated repeatedly we’re not terrified of and won’t be intimidated by any threats,” Turkish Overseas Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated, including: “Financial threats towards Turkey will get nowhere.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin earlier stated Ankara would “proceed to battle towards all of them”, referring to IS and the YPG.

Trump on Sunday warned the US would “devastate Turkey economically in the event that they hit Kurds”.

Whereas there have been tensions over American coaching of the YPG underneath the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, there gave the impression to be some enchancment on the difficulty after Trump stated final month 2,000 American troops would withdraw from Syria.

Ankara welcomed the pullout determination after Erdogan instructed Trump in a cellphone name that Turkey might end off the final remnants of IS.

Trump had additionally pushed for the creation of a 30-kilometre (20-mile) “secure zone” in his tweet however provided no particulars.

Cavusoglu added that Turkey was “not towards” a “safety zone” in Syria, throughout a press convention in Ankara together with his Luxembourg counterpart Jean Asselborn.

– Renewed tensions –

Turkey views the YPG as a “terrorist offshoot” of the outlawed Kurdistan Employees’ Celebration (PKK), which has been waging an insurgency towards the Turkish state since 1984.

The PKK is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Ankara, the US and the European Union.

Spokesman Kalin added it was “a deadly mistake to equate Syrian Kurds with the PKK”.

There was rising friction between Turkey and the US over the destiny of the YPG, particularly after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this month stated Washington would guarantee Turkey wouldn’t “slaughter” Kurds.

And earlier than a go to to Ankara final week, White Home Nationwide Safety adviser John Bolton stated the US retreat was conditional on the security of the Kurdish fighters, frightening offended retorts from Turkish officers.

However Pompeo on Saturday stated he was “optimistic” a approach might be discovered to guard Syrian Kurds whereas permitting Turks to “defend their nation from terrorists”.

The specter of new sanctions hit the Turkish lira which weakened after 1100 GMT to achieve over 5.5 to the US greenback, a lack of over one % in worth on the day.

Washington beforehand hit Ankara with sanctions final August over the detention of an American pastor in Turkey.

The lira plunged to seven {dollars} on the peak of tensions.

However to Turkey’s aid, the US sanctions had been later lifted after Pastor Andrew Brunson was launched by a Turkish courtroom in October.

– ‘Radical resolution’ in Idlib –

Turkey beforehand launched army offensives in northern Syria in 2016 and 2018 respectively towards IS and the YPG. In early 2018, Syrian rebels backed by Turkish army forces captured the YPG’s northwestern enclave of Afrin.

Ankara, which helps Syrian opposition fighters, can also be concerned within the final insurgent bastion of Idlib, the place Turkey has agreed a buffer zone cope with Damascus ally Russia.

However the deal has not stopped an assault by jihadists in Syria. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an alliance led by jihadists from Al-Qaeda’s former Syrian affiliate, final week prolonged its administrative management over the entire of the Idlib area.

Syria’s Nationwide Coalition, the main opposition physique, on Sunday referred to as for a “radical resolution” to place “an finish to its (HTS) presence” in Idlib.

“If Idlib is a terrorists’ nest, these accountable aren’t the Syrians who stay within the area or Turkey however the regime and the international locations which assist (Damascus),” Cavusoglu stated, claiming that the statements that HTS took 50 % of Idlib are “not true”.

Cavusoglu added that the Idlib deal was being “efficiently utilized” and that “our groups are working collectively to resolve the minor points”.

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