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Turkish President Erdogan is quiet, other officials reacting to US decision to arm YPG

By Ela Gonca İzmirli

The Turkish prime minister, deputy prime minister and foreign minister denounced the Trump administration’s decision to equip Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces in the battle against the Islamic State while Turkish President, who is expected to visit Washington on May 16th chose to stay quiet on the issue. Though Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has been quiet about the decision.

Trump administration’s decision on Wednesday was expected but was nonetheless a remarkable turning point in the relations between long-time NATO allies.

Turkish PM: Erdogan will raise the issue in Washington

“USA must pick a side. We [Turkish administration] cannot accept any direct or indirect military aid to PKK,” said Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. Turkish government considers YPG as terrorist organization and as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a designated a terrorist group by the U.S. Yildirim, talking to the press said that Turkey is opposed to using the terrorist organization PKK against another terrorist organization ISIS. Prime Minister Yildirim said Mr. Erdogan would raise the issue during his Washington visit.

Dep PM: We expect this misstep to be reversed

Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli also criticized the US decision on a television program saying ” US is giving military equipment to PKK through YPG. We can not accept the presence of terrorist groups [in neighboring countries] in a way that threatens the future of the Turkish state.” Saying that such a policy would not benefit anyone he added “We are taking all the necessary diplomatic steps and we will continue to do so. We hope that the new U.S. administration reverses this misstep.”

The foreign minister, Mr. Cavusoglu, speaking in Montenegro, berated the decision with stronger words, saying that “every weapon PKK obtains is a threat to the future of Turkey.” reiterating Mr. Canikli’s statement which called the decision to arm YPG a “wrong” move that could harm Turkey’s future.

“Every weapon that goes to YPG is a threat against Turkey,” Mr. Cavusoglu said, “The United States knows our position on this issue. During our Washington visit, our president personally will explain those reasons to Mr. Trump.”

Turkish Main Opposition Asked Erdogan to cancel Washington Visit

Turkish main opposition party, CHP, spokesman Bulent Tezcan also rebuked the surprise move which he called “unacceptable.” Reiterating the official Turkish position, Mr. Tezcan said that this step could harm Turkey. He also criticized the president’s decision not to cancel the US visit.

The Turkish President Erdogan has not spoken out about the issue, and there has been limited coverage of the U.S. decision in the Turkish media.

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