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Turkey warns against backing PKK/PYD to take Raqqah

Numan Kurtulmus, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey [Jehan Alfarra/Middle East Monitor]
Image of Numan Kurtulmus, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey [Jehan Alfarra/Middle East Monitor]

Using the PKK/PYD to take the Syrian city of Raqqah from Daesh could create a new humanitarian crisis, a senior Turkish minister warned on Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus also said it was “unacceptable” for NATO-member Turkey to tolerate the arming of terrorist organisations by its NATO allies.

“Let’s say you drove Daesh from Raqqah. If you let the PYD — which is already waiting for ethnic cleansing in Raqqah — enter into 100 percent Arab Raqqah — how can you prevent possible humanitarian crises and huge conflicts there?” he asked.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that US President Donald Trump had approved the arming of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) ahead of an attempt to drive Daesh from Raqqah.

The SDF is spearheaded by the PKK/PYD and its armed wing, the PKK/YPG. Turkey views both as the Syrian affiliates of the terrorist PKK, which has fought a 33-year war against Turkey and is also listed as a terror organisation by the US and EU.

However, the US has used the PKK/PYD as its ally in Syria in combatting Daesh. Turkey has repeatedly called on the US to end its ties to the PKK/PYD and offered to help take Raqqah.

Kurtulmus said Turkey was both defending the territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq and supporting moves to clear out terrorist organisations.

“In this sense, we underline that Daesh is as dangerous a terrorist organisation as the PKK and PYD,” he said, adding that if the US and other Turkish allies were in search of regional peace, they should not be cooperating with terrorist organisations.

“Instead, we say [to Turkey’s allies] it would be rational to cooperate with Turkey, which is the only regional country with economic and political stability,” he added.

Kurtulmus went on to say that the main reason for the conflicts in the world was the continuing instability in global politics and that the area most affected by this instability was the Middle East, and Turkey’s immediate region.

“The war in Syria and the disintegration in Iraq are just one of the signs of this breakdown in global politics,” Kurtulmus said.

“In particular, the Syrian war which has been going on for six years, and the first three years of which was a civil war and the second three years a proxy war, has reached an extremely dangerous point, preventing peace in the world and disturbing the balances in global politics.”

Kurtulmus also warned against the war in Iraq, calling on everyone to be vigilant in the face of power struggles of different groups in the country, and the emerging disintegration.

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