Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized the U.S. for sending “trucks loaded with weapons” to northern Syria, implying that the new shipment is aimed against his country.
“The emergence and collapse of Daesh are full of mysteries, question marks. Well, let’s say you argued that you were fighting against Daesh [as an excuse to send weapons to Syrian Kurds]. Then why do trucks filled with weapons are arriving in northern Syria and Syria,” President Erdogan asked rhetorically on Tuesday. Daesh is the Arabic acronym of the Islamic State.
Mr. Erdogan was referring to a convoy of 120 trucks that carried armored vehicles and mine-resistant vehicles to Afrin last week, a Kurdish-held town outside Turkey’s Hatay province, according to a report by state-run news agency Anadolu.
In April, U.S. President Donald J. Trump approved the delivery of heavy military equipment to Syrian Kurds as part of the anti-ISIS fight. Syrian Kurds are considered to be the most effective partners on the ground in the U.S.-led coalition’s fight against the extremist group.
Turkey considers Syrian Kurdish YPG militias as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state for over three decades.
Mr. Erdogan asked on Tuesday why the U.S. still continues supplying these arms to northern Syria considering that the ISIS is no longer a threat. “Against which country are you making this militarization in northern Syria and Syria? You have to explain this… We know what is what. No one can expect Turkey to sit on its hands while these scenarios that concern Turkey’s fate unfold,” Mr. Erdogan said.
EU Budget Funding
President Erdogan said the European Union is having a hard time keeping its union together, but never misses a chance to criticize Turkey. “And they recently cut the funding. You first clear terrorists in your own country, build your own governments,” Mr. Erdogan said, referring to the collapse of coalition talks in Germany.
The E.U. Commission decided last week to cut so-called “pre-ascension funding” to Turkey due to the “deteriorating situation in relation to democracy, rule of law and human rights.” The E.U. will shrink the funds for Turkey by 105 million euros ($124 million) and suspend an additional 70 million euros in the 2018 budget.
Designing the Region
President Erdogan said although ISIS is rooted out from Syria and Iraq, it is replaced by other terrorist groups. “The regime of [Bashar al-Assad] is still there. Syrians rebels are almost portrayed as terrorists.”
Mr. Erdogan said the goal is not to fight against terrorist groups or bring democracy in the region but to design the region as Western powers did in the last century. Events unfolding in the Gulf region or Northern Africa are not independent of events in Iraq and Syria, the president argued, claiming that it is part of “one big game.” He promised not to allow others to design the region with the excuse of fighting against terrorists.