US lifting sanctions on YPG/PKK-held territories in Syria is arbitrary decision ‘lacking objective criteria,’ says Foreign Minister Cavusoglu
Turkey on Friday blasted a US move to exempt certain terrorist-controlled areas in northern Syria from its sanctions on the Assad regime, saying it seeks to whitewash the terrorist YPG/PKK.
The decision is “an attempt to legitimize” the terrorist group, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a press conference alongside Christophe Lutundula Apala, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister.
The move “lacks objective criteria” but has “certain motives,” he added, likely referring to the US’ longstanding support for the terrorist YPG/PKK, which Turkey has long objected to.
Cavusogu stressed that the US is “discriminating” on the lifting of sanctions among regions that the Assad regime does not control.
“They are expanding (the end of sanctions) to regions where the YPG/PKK is dominant,” he said.
He cited how the lifting of sanctions “includes the region we cleared of terrorism of Daesh [ISIS], but not regions like Afrin, which we cleared of the PKK,” he added, referring to Turkish cross-border operations since 2016 to clear the terrorist groups Deash/ISIS and the YPG/PKK, the PKK’s Syrian branch, for the safety of locals and border security.
The YPG/PKK remains in control of large swathes of northeastern Syria with US backing.
The PKK is a designated terrorist organization in Turkey and the US. But Washington has refrained from similarly designating the YPG/PKK and continues to partner with it in the region against the Daesh/ISIS terror group despite firm protests from Ankara.
The US claims the YPG/PKK is an “ally” in the fight against ISIS/Daesh, but Turkey says using one terror group to fight another makes no sense.
Stressing that Idlib, northern Syria is very deserving of support from the international community, Cavusoglu said at least half a million Syrians voluntarily returned to Syria’s Afrin region as Turkey cleared it of terrorists.
“If there were such support (lifting sanctions), however, more Syrians would go home. Here we see an effort to legitimize the PKK and the YPG. It is a decision taken without consulting anyone, and with certain motives,” he added.
Separately, on Thursday’s attacks by PKK sympathizers on Turkey’s Consulate General in Paris, Cavusoglu urged French authorities to take “concrete legal steps” against the terrorists.
The late-night attack with firework-type explosives damaged a window and the exterior wall of the consulate building.
“According to the Vienna Convention, the hosting country is responsible for the protection of (foreign) missions. Thus, France must first do what is necessary to ensure that the perpetrators of this attack are immediately arrested, captured, and held accountable before the judiciary,” Cavusoglu said.
The Paris attack comes close on the heels of PKK supporters attacking a children’s festival last Sunday in Basel, Switzerland.
After the Swiss attack, Turkish Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said such incidents demonstrate that PKK terrorism has “engulfed Europe like poison ivy and that a multidimensional effort is necessary to counter this global threat.”
The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by the EU, but Turkey has complained that many European countries tolerate its presence and allow it to recruit and sell drugs to fund its attacks.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.
For his part, Democratic Republic of Congo’s Apala hailed ties with Turkey, saying the two countries have signed a number of agreements in the areas of the defense industry, military, and military training, seeking to fight terrorism.
“If a country like Turkey helps us in the fight against terrorism and to prevent looting, then we would be able to (better) fight terrorism,” he added.