Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ has criticized United States officials for giving contradicting statements concerning Turkey’s operation to Syria’s Afrin, vowing to clear Manbij and east of the Euphrates River from the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG), unless the U.S. and the anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) international coalition stop supplying the Kurdish forces.
“We are facing more than one ‘United States.’ The Pentagon says something while the State Department says otherwise. We are confused. According to which statement should we act upon?” Bozdağ said on Jan. 28 in a televised interview with private broadcaster Kanal 7.
The Turkish military launched the operation into the northwestern Syrian district of Afrin on Jan. 20 on the grounds that the YPG’s presence in the city poses a security threat to Turkey, as Ankara regards the Syrian Kurdish forces as an affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Criticizing the U.S. for supplying arms and weapons to the PYD and YPG within the scope of the anti-ISIL coalition in the region, Ankara had been demanding the establishment of a security zone in northern Syria to block such threat.
The issue came to the agenda during a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Paris on Jan. 23, as Tillerson reportedly said a day before that the U.S. had told Turkey “let us see if we can work with you to create the kind of security zone you might need.”
While Çavuşoğlu on Jan. 25 said “Tillerson said they were considering establishing a 10 kilometer-deep security zone,” on the same day, Tillerson said they only “discussed a number of possible options but [they] had not proposed anything.”
Ankara had criticized the statements of being contradictory after the Pentagon gave a statement on Jan. 25 indicating “a talk” with Ankara “about the possibility of a security zone.”
“U.S. President Donald Trump says something and then others interpret what Trump said and give statements by transforming it,” Bozdağ said, reiterating Ankara’s criticisms.
“What has been said and what has been done are different. […] From now on, Turkey will only consider actions,” he said.
“On the border of Turkey, the steps of making the PKK terrorist organization a state have been taken. They want to build a structure that stretches out to the Mediterranean,” he added.
He stated that Turkey will be determined to “disrupt” such plans, calling out on the U.S. to quit arming Syrian Kurdish forces.
“We will disrupt those plans and organizations unless U.S. officials or other supporters give up their aims, dismiss them and scatter all their organizations,” Bozdağ said.
“Manbij and the east of the Euphrates River will be cleared of them [terrorist organizations],” he added.