President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has continued his criticisms of both Russia and the United States over their respective policies in Syria, warning the prolongation of the problem in the Arab republic would create more problems for the rest of the world.
Erdoğan strongly reacted to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hosting of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Moscow while criticizing Washington for its continued military and political support fır Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Ankara has claimed is a terrorist organization.
“Can you imagine? [Does] receiving a person responsible for the death of 370,000 people on a red carpet have a place in international diplomacy? Unfortunately, humanity witnessed this,” Erdoğan said in an address at Hasan Kalyoncu University in the southeastern province of Gaziantep on Oct. 24.
Erdoğan’s government has previously been the target of international criticism for welcoming Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, despite the latter being the subject of an international arrest warrant over the genocide in Darfur.
Putin met al-Assad last week in Moscow in the Syrian president’s first visit abroad since the unrest broke out in his country in early 2011.
Erdoğan also criticized the U.S. without naming it over its support for the PYD in northern Syria, as Turkey considers the group an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“I was so clear on this: I said ‘the PYD is a terror organization.’ But they say, ‘No, this is a political organization.’ Quite the contrary, they are the associates of the PKK in northern Syria. There are 1,400 PKK members within the PYD,” Erdoğan said.
Countries that pretend to be Turkey’s friends are not moving in the same direction as Turkey, the president said. “If they are supplied with arms, these come from these countries. We perfectly know which country these weapons belong to. We openly tell them where they are supplying weapons to.”
The ties between Ankara and Washington have become more strained in recent weeks after the latter’s supply of military logistics to the PYD despite Turkish anger. Turkey has dismissed the PYD’s role in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) despite international praise for their conduct in the battle against the Islamists.
Turkey won’t ‘sacrifice’ northern Syria
The president reiterated that Turkey would not allow these countries to change the situation in northern Syria, as this would pose a threat to Turkey. “It’s impossible for us to say ‘yes’ to this threat. We will either take concrete actions or this problem will turn into the problem of the world and of Europe.”
World powers have begun to understand the necessity of creating terror-free and no-fly zones inside Syria, but their real objective is to divide Turkey, Erdoğan said. “They have not been able to succeed and they will not succeed. Sooner or later, they will have to adopt our views. Otherwise, we will have to take our own steps.”