On this visit to president Trump, Turkish president Erdogan didn’t get what he wanted: a reversal of Trump’s decision to arm the Kurdish-Arab forces fighting Islamic State in Syria. Now he threats to attack these forces. Wiser would it be for him to check in with reality.
The Kurdish fighters in Syria, with whom I have been spending my time as a journalist the last couple of weeks, are ready for whichever reaction the Turkish government will deem fit after the decision of president Trump to arm them with heavy weapons. Even Turkey’s president Erdogan’s threat to invade the Kurds’ de-facto autonomous lands in the north of Syria, doesn’t scare the fighters. They know that eventually, their ideology will prevail. For Erdogan there is only one thing left to do: wake up to this reality.
Turkey’s president Erdogan has tried close to everything to steer the US government away from supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish-Arab army currently closing in on Islamic State’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa. The SDF is lead by the Kurdish YPG, which Erdogan considers to be the same as the PKK, the Kurdish armed group that has been fighting the Turkish state since the early 1980s. The PKK demands autonomy for the Kurds in the southeast of the country – a demand the Turkish state has always categorally rejected.
But with his latest attempt to try to paint the picture of the YPG as a blood thirsty terrorist group, he may have overplayed his hand. The attack at a YPG base in northeast Syria on 25 April in which twenty YPG fighters and media-activists died, drew nothing but international rejection. Erdogan raged that the YPG is carrying out attacks on Turkish soil from the north of Syria and this ‘terrorism’ has to stop, but there is no proof of such attacks, simply because they never happened. Erdogan brags about his own attacks though, and promises for more to come.
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