Trump arms the Kurds against Islamic State: Next, mollify the angry Turks

Posted May 13, 2017

Commanders in the Syrian Kurdish militia, the YPG, and the US -led coalition against the Islamic State say Washington's decision to send more arms to the YPG will accelerate their advance into Islamic State's de facto capital, Raqqa.

"I would characterize it as the usual sort of honest, transparent and helpful discussion between two long-term North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies on issues that ... directly impact the security of Turkey, and how we work out the way ahead in regards to the continued offensive" against the terror group known as ISIS or ISIL, Mr. Mattis told reporters in London. Both Turkey and the United States have designated the PKK a terrorist organization, though the United States does not consider the Syrian Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG), who make up much of the SDF, the same organization as the PKK.

The U.S.is convinced that the Kurdish fighters, known as the YPG, are the most effective local force in trying to oust IS militants from their stronghold in Raqqa, Syria.

Turkey's top diplomat has criticized a USA decision to provide arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters, saying every weapon given to them poses a threat to Turkey.

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The Syrian Kurds have been encircling Raqqa, preparing for the launch of what the USA military predicts will be a long and hard battle to retake the city.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched an intervention a year ago to push back both the YPG and Isis from Turkey's border and has been angered by the US-led coalition's continued links with Kurdish separatists. Its defense minister, Fikri Isik, said Wednesday that the decision plunges Washington and Ankara into a "crisis". It's a testament to the time and patience it takes to defeat Islamic State fighters entrenched in an urban environment.

Erdogan said he did not want to see "a terrorist organisation alongside the United States", and that Turkey would continue military operations against Kurdish militia targets in Iraq and Syria.

Earlier, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters the USA failure to consider Turkey's sensitivities "will surely have consequences and will yield a negative result for the U.S.as well". "We never have and never will". The strikes were part of an ongoing counterterrorism operation targeting members of the YPG, some of who could potentially be teamed with US military advisers. It comes just as Turkey sent a high powered delegation to Washington to explain to the Americans Ankara's misgivings in detail.

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The YPG militia says the decision is "historic" and a "sign of confidence" in the group, in a statement released Wednesday. He and other officials have said the USA will closely monitor the weapons' distribution and insure that they are used only against IS.

"We will work very closely with Turkey in support of their security on their southern border", he added.

Cavusoglu said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would take up the issue with President Donald Trump during a visit to Washington planned for next week.

The US decision to equip the SDF with weapons was a snub to Turkey, which does not want the Kurdish-led force to take Raqqa and has offered its own troops instead. So to the frustration and horror of us Turks, they not only train them for combat but also give them heavy arms that will sooner or later be turned against Turkey in the hands of PKK terrorists. Like Turkey, the US considers that group a terrorist organization.

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