Turkey should close military bases on Turkish soil to the use of the U.S if it continues to support the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said.
“If America does not develop a process in line with our wishes and continues to support terrorist organizations, [the İncirlik airbase] might be shut down, along with the one in Malatya’s Kürecik,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on Feb. 14, speaking in an interview on private broadcaster Fox TV.
His comments came after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Feb. 13 that Turkey’s military operation “Olive Branch” in the Syrian district of Afrin is hampering the U.S.-led coalition’s efforts to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“The situation in Afrin has detracted from our fight to defeat ISIL in eastern Syria,” Tillerson said at a joint press conference in Kuwait with Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah.
Stating that a number of YPG forces have been moving toward Afrin to fight against Turkish forces, he said this situation affected the fight against ISIL and Washington wants to make sure Turkey is aware of this.
In response, CHP head Kılıçdaroğlu blasted the U.S.’s support for the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the YPG forces as a part of the anti-ISIL coalition in Syria, reiterating Ankara’s stance that the Syrian Kurdish forces are affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“Turkey should react strongly [to U.S. support to the YPG]. The PYD and the YPG are terrorist organizations and you cannot arm them. You cannot deploy them on my borders. If you do that Turkey will sever all ties that have been formed with America,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that the Afrin operation is necessary for “the survival of Turkish state.”
The CHP leader also said Turkey should pursue talks with the Syrian regime in order to address problems emanating from across the border.
“I defend Syria’s territorial integrity. [President Bashar] al-Assad also wants that. I am against the YPG, so is al-Assad. So we should form a connection with al-Assad. We should say: ‘Are you against the YPG and the PKK?’ We are also against them. We should struggle together,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Responding to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s criticism of Kılıçdaroğlu for his suggestion of pursuing talks with al-Assad, the CHP head said the government is “already in talks” with the Damascus regime.
“Everything they have said is a lie. They are already pursuing talks,” he said.