Turkey raps US flip-flop on Kurdish insurgents

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu placing flowers at the site of Wednesday's suicide bomb attack in Ankara that killed 28 people. Turkey says the YPG was behind the attack, but the US says it is not in a position to confirm or deny Ankara's accu
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu placing flowers at the site of Wednesday's suicide bomb attack in Ankara that killed 28 people. Turkey says the YPG was behind the attack, but the US says it is not in a position to confirm or deny Ankara's accusation.PHOTO: REUTERS

Washington backs YPG militia, but Kerry now says it can't be trusted: Turkish minister

ISTANBUL • Turkey's foreign minister accused the United States yesterday of making conflicting statements about the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, in a sign of deepening divisions between the Nato allies over policy in Syria.

Mr Mevlut Cavusoglu said US Secretary of State John Kerry had told him the Kurdish insurgents could not be trusted, in what Mr Cavusoglu said was a departure from Washington's official position.

Washington's support of the YPG in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has enraged Ankara, which fears advances by the Kurdish militia in northern Syria would stoke separatism among its own Kurdish minority. Turkey says the YPG was responsible for a car bombing in Ankara that killed 28 people this week.

"Resorting to terrorist groups like the YPG in the fight against Daesh in Syria is above all a sign of weakness," Mr Cavusoglu said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamist group. "Everyone must stop this mistake. In particular our ally the United States must stop this mistake immediately."

He was speaking at a news conference in the Georgian capital Tbilisi and his comments were carried live on Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber.

Washington's support of the YPG in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has enraged Ankara, which fears advances by the Kurdish militia in northern Syria would stoke separatism among its own Kurdish minority.

"My friend Kerry said the YPG cannot be trusted," Mr Cavusoglu said. "When you look at some statements coming from America, conflicting and confused statements are still coming.... We were glad to hear from John Kerry yesterday that his views on the YPG have partly changed."

The United States has said it does not consider the YPG a terrorist group. A spokesman for the State Department said on Thursday that Washington was not in a position to either confirm or deny Turkey's charge that the YPG was behind the Ankara bombing attack.

He also called on Turkey to stop its recent shelling of the YPG. The YPG's political arm has denied the group was behind the bombing and said Turkey was using the attack to justify an escalation in fighting.

So far, the authorities have detained 17 people in connection with the bombing and there was evidence they were linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Separately, security force members caught two people in a car loaded with 500kg of explosives on Thursday evening in the city of Diyarbakir in the mainly Kurdish south-east, security sources said.

Meanwhile, Russia's envoy to the United Nations yesterday warned long-term ally President Bashar al-Assad over his vow to retake all of Syria, saying he faced dire consequences if he did not comply with Moscow over the peace process.

"Russia has invested very seriously in this crisis, politically, diplomatically and now also militarily," Mr Vitaly Churkin told Kommersant daily, referring to an international agreement to cease hostilities sealed in Munich last week.

He added that the Syrian leader's stance "is not in accord with the diplomatic efforts that Russia is making".

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2016, with the headline 'Turkey raps US flip-flop on Kurdish insurgents'. Print Edition | Subscribe