Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Turkey: Relations with USA at make-or-break point

Turkey: Relations with USA at make-or-break point

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson faces perhaps the most hard stop of his Mideast trip in Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has doubled down on anti-American rhetoric by appearing to threaten U.S. troops in Syria.

Erdogan said during a speech to Turkish parliament that Ankara is furious at the USA for its support of the Kurdish militias.

The ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told Thursday's briefing that five Russian citizens were killed in the US strike in the eastern Deir el-Zour province, adding they were not military personnel.

Erdoğan stated that Washington's recent decision to continue funding the YPG militia will "affect Turkey's decisions".

"They have a legitimate security concern, and we do not dismiss one bit of that, along that border with Syria. I am calling on the people of the United States, this money is coming out of the budget of the United States, it is coming out of people's pockets", said Erdogan. While the SDF are composed of militias of different ethnic backgrounds struggling for similar beliefs, the YPG play a leading role. The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the EU. Buldan faces a sentence of from five to 10 years in prison.

Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist group and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

That isn't preventing those involved in the conflict from seeing just what they can get away with against their rivals-as the recent fighting involving the Turkey and the Kurds, Iran and Israel, and Russians and the US showed. Turkey viewed the Kurds allied with the U.S.as terrorists, even while it also opposed the Assad regime. However, this may change as the YPG priorities are also changing. Turkish proxies, backed by the air force, are attacking Kurdish militias in Afrin, a border town.

There are less than 1,000 IS fighters estimated remaining in Iraq and Syria. Any hope of a functional US-Turkey relationship is only possible if Washington makes a crystal clear statement that the advances and threats issued by the Turkish president will not be tolerated.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called on members of the US -led coalition fighting against the extremist group Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria to commit to the complete defeat of the militants.

Buldan said she wants to revive a peace process that collapsed three years ago, what she calls "a turning point for Turkey". "We will defend ourselves", Funk said.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag warned the US about future collisions.

"We don't bypass ISIS", Mattis said.

Turkey invaded northern Syria in 2016 and seized part of the Kurdish region in order to prevent the SDF from creating a contiguous territory along the Turkish border. Participants chanted slogans such as "Everywhere Afrin, everywhere resistance" and "Freedom for Ocalan" in different languages as they are heading towards Geneva. Erdogan has benefited politically from escalating Turkey's war against Kurdish separatists at home and overseas.

A Leila Khaled mural on the Israel-Palestine separation wall.

While the USA backed away from the plan and Tillerson said it had been "misportrayed, misdescribed", tensions escalated as Turkey moved into Afrin. You are resisting. You are the voice of those who resist colonialism.

Syria's conflict has killed more than 340,000 people since 2011, with the de-escalation zones - including in the northwestern province of Idlib - failing to stem the fighting.

"The specter of the world's worst civil war in decades is becoming demonstrably worse by the week - and even more complicated by the actions of outside forces - creating a ideal storm of chaos and suffering in Syria", the Soufan Center said in an analysis of the situation.

Far from winding down, Syria's civil war is threatening to trigger direct conflicts between the United States and Turkey, Israel and Iran, and even the United States and Russian Federation.

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