Tense times in US-Turkey relations as officials huddle

17 February, 2018, 00:57 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Washington has said Turkey's operation against the YPG militia in Syria risks diverting energy from the fight against IS jihadists

The squabble over Syria is, however, just one of a litany of issues burdening Turkey-US relations. They have become frenemies.Turkey and the U.S. were allies throughout the Cold War era and their relationship is often described as a "strategic alliance" or a "model partnership".

For Ankara, the YPG is a branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is blacklisted as a terror outfit by the U.S. and the EU. These differences have become the ultimate test of their relationship.The real problem in current Turkish-US relations is the lack of trust based on American moves in Syria.

However, the U.S. has used the YPG as a key ally in its battle against Islamic State in Syria, and in the last week has defended it against attacks by pro-Syrian government forces in Deir Ezzor.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip has warned Washington it risks getting an
Tense times in US-Turkey relations as officials huddle

Combined forces of the Turkish Army and allied Free Syrian Army militias have driven Kurdish fighters from another two towns in Syria's northwestern Afrin region, Al-Masdar News reports. However, despite previous pledges made by the USA and several warnings from the Turkish side, it is business as usual between the United States and the YPG/PYD.

Tillerson the day earlier held over three hours of talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with presidential sources saying the Turkish leader "openly" laid out Turkey's expectations and priorities.

He also touched on Erdogan's increasing clamp-down on democracy, tying progress on that front to better ties between Ankara and Washington. For its part, the United States is very much determined not to move from Manbij, with Lt. Gen. Paul Funk saying: "You hit us, we will respond aggressively".

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Turkey launched an air and ground assault last month in Syria's northwest Afrin region to drive the YPG from the area south of its border.

The Turkish minister also reported Mattis as saying the US was developing plans to take back weapons supplied to the Syrian Kurds.

"We will work together... we have good mechanisms on how we can achieve this, there is a lot of work to be done", he added. The US aims to preserve its position in the region with goals that seem to be considered as paradoxes by Turkey.

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"We find ourselves at a bit of a crisis point in the relationship", Tillerson said, acknowledging a point that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu repeatedly made during their press appearance together. The first paradox is that the USA supports an organization that is a wing of the PKK, which is considered a terrorist entity not only by Turkey, but by the United States itself. "We were either going to correct this or it was going to take a turn for the worse".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says around 80 civilians have been killed, along with 160 Kurdish fighters in a slow-moving offensive launched by Turkey on January 20.

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