Turkey threatens US allies and companions as Ukraine conflict provides Erdogan leverage

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks following a Cupboard assembly, in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Could 23, 2022. Erdogan mentioned Monday he would stop speaking to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and cancel a key assembly between their two nations, accusing the Greek chief of antagonistic habits in opposition to Turkey. Erdogan accused Greece of harboring followers of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen whom Turkey says was behind a 2016 failed coup try and of building army bases in opposition to Turkey. (Turkish Presidency through G3 Field Information Picture) G3 Field Information

Turkey threatens US allies and companions as Ukraine conflict provides Erdogan leverage

Joel Gehrke

June 09, 07:00 AM June 09, 07:00 AM

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Turkey could quickly launch a brand new army operation in opposition to the Kurdish forces that partnered with america to dismantle the Islamic State group in Syria regardless of protests from American officers.

“We’re fully unstinting in our efforts with the Turkish authorities to again them off on this ill-considered enterprise,” State Division Assistant Secretary Barbara Leaf informed the Senate International Relations Committee throughout a Wednesday listening to. “I couldn’t provide the assurance that they’re going to.”

A cross-border assault might upend the U.S. method to suppressing IS and maybe even drive crucial American companion within the nation into an alliance with Syrian President Bashar Assad, American leaders worry. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who regards the Syrian fighters as terrorist allies of the Kurdish separatist group that has fought the Turkish central authorities for many years, appears eager to press disputes with the U.S. and different NATO members at a second when the conflict in Ukraine has demonstrated Erdogan’s clout throughout the trans-Atlantic alliance — as evidenced by his Wednesday accusation that the U.S. and Greece have established army bases concentrating on Turkey.

“9 American bases — the place have these bases been established? In Greece,” Erdogan informed reporters, per a Turkish public broadcaster’s interpreter. “And in opposition to whom? They reply ‘in opposition to Russia,’ however we won’t purchase into that. Sorry, however no.”


Erdogan made that remark alongside Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro, who’s visiting Ankara after President Joe Biden banned him and different Latin American authoritarians from attending the Summit of the Americas this week in Los Angeles. His press convention renewed a number of the most fractious controversies of Erdogan’s relationship with the remainder of the trans-Atlantic alliance, as he reiterated his accusation that Sweden and Finland, who’ve utilized to hitch NATO, give shelter to Kurdish terrorists.

“What we skilled with Greece, what we skilled with France, we don’t need to expertise the identical with them,” Erdogan mentioned.

Greece and Turkey have a fraught historical past regardless of their mutual membership in NATO. They entered the alliance collectively in 1952 in the course of the Chilly Warfare, however the fashionable state of Greece fought a conflict of independence in opposition to the Ottoman Empire, which preceded the Republic of Turkey, within the early nineteenth century that succeeded partly as a result of interventions of Nice Britain, France, and Russia.

French President Emmanuel Macron got here to Greece’s help in 2020 after Turkish and Greek forces almost got here to blows throughout a dispute about vitality exploration rights within the Mediterranean. Turkey reportedly responded through the use of a cutting-edge Russian anti-aircraft missile system, bought in defiance of U.S. sanctions legislation, to trace F-16 fighter jets flown by France, Greece, and Italy throughout a joint army train with the United Arab Emirates. Extra not too long ago, Turkey has accused Greece of militarizing key islands within the Aegean Sea in violation of worldwide agreements.

“Greece ought to disarm these islands. If not, the sovereignty of those islands can be open to dialogue.” Turkish International Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu mentioned Tuesday, per Turkish media, in an obvious menace. “That’s what we clearly inform Greece.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis maintained that the 2 sides are “nonetheless very far” from the depth that their disputes reached in 2020.

“Right now, everybody wants to point out restraint,” Mitsotakis mentioned Tuesday, “particularly at a time when we face a really huge problem at NATO with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We should be united.”

That invasion has galvanized the alliance and democratic allies in Europe, even spurring Sweden and Finland to desert their historic posture of neutrality between Moscow and the capitals of NATO. Russia threatened retaliation for such a transfer in the course of the Nordic states’ inner debates over the appliance course of, however Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson countered that embattled Russian forces are too “occupied in Ukraine” to interdict their motion into the alliance — leaving Erdogan’s veto menace standing as the best obstacle to their membership.

“NATO is a corporation of safety. NATO isn’t a company that may pave the way in which for terror,” Erdogan mentioned. “So long as these terror teams do run rampant in Sweden — and even in their very own parliaments, there are terrorists — so long as these terrorists are of their parliaments and so long as these terror teams on the streets of Stockholm make demonstrations … and so long as interviews with terrorist leaders are broadcast on nationwide TVs, we can not inform them, ‘Go forward and be part of NATO, and proceed as such.’”

Erdogan seemed to be referring to Swedish lawmaker Amineh Kakabaveh, an Iranian Kurd who joined a Kurdish militia as a teen in the course of the Iran-Iraq Warfare earlier than fleeing to Europe. Now a political impartial and deciding vote in Sweden’s divided parliament, Kakabaveh stays a supporter of Kurdish teams in Syria and rejects Erdogan’s allegation that these militias, the Syrian Democratic Forces and the YPG, are terrorists. The Swedish prime minister’s social gathering endorsed Kakabaveh’s place on the Syrian Kurds in November as a part of its effort to safe a governing majority.

“That freedom fighters who fought or sympathize with YPG or [the Democratic Union Party] are classed by sure state actors as terrorists is unacceptable. … The Social Democrats intend to deepen their cooperation with the [the Democratic Union Party],” the Swedish politicians agreed, because the Monetary Instances famous.

Erdogan makes no distinction between these teams and the PKK, a militant group of Turkish Kurds that the U.S. and different nations have designated a overseas terrorist group for many years. He needs to drive the Syrian Kurdish forces again from the Turkish border — as he tried to do in 2019. And the SDF, an umbrella group of Kurdish and Arab militias, has mentioned it could companion with Assad to fend off the Turkish assault if Erdogan carries out his menace.

“The assembly confirmed the readiness of [SDF] forces to coordinate with forces of the Damascus authorities to confront any attainable Turkish incursion and to guard Syrian territories in opposition to occupation,” the group mentioned Tuesday.

Such a battle might make it more durable for these forces to take care of custody of 1000’s of IS militants that they’re holding in northeast Syrian prisons. IS fighters carried out a serious assault to take a type of prisons in January.

G3 Field Information

“Any enterprise, any army operation throughout the border into northern Syria, at the start places the civilian inhabitants within the crosshairs, and secondly, [it] severely places in danger a essential mission that the worldwide D-ISIS coalition, the U.S., is endeavor,” Leaf, the State Division’s lead official for the Close to East bureau, informed the Senate International Relations Committee Wednesday. “And, clearly, it places into the crosshairs our personal companions in that mission.”

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