Kurdish-Led SDF Closing In On IS-Held Raqqa, Groups Report

Pauline Gross
May 19, 2017

Turkey has been angered by a USA decision to provide arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters that Turkey considers terrorists. On the other hand, it depends on what he wants from Trump and Washington. Trump also took the unusual step of calling Erdogan to congratulate him after Turkey voted to give him sweeping new powers in a controversial referendum last month.

The goal of those visits was "to pave the ground for fruitful discussions between the two presidents".

The U.S. supports Turkey against the PKK, but now considers ISIS the greater threat to U.S. national security, in part because the PKK does not seek to impose its ideology globally but seeks a unified independent homeland for all Kurds. Although the Turks tried to keep calm and wait until after the Erdoğan-Trump meeting to respond, it is no secret that this plan remains unacceptable to Turkey.

The same goes for Zarrab, who was arrested in Miami in March previous year and was linked to a 2013 corruption scandal that ensnared the government when Erdogan was prime minister.

Ed Stafford is a retired Foreign Service Officer whose last overseas assignment was to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey (2011-2014).

"We have sent a delegation ahead to the USA, and they have held meetings with officials", Erdogan said before he headed to China en route to Washington.

A military official told VOA the United States will provide Kurdish forces around Raqqa with small arms, machine-guns, ammunition, and armored vehicles to counter improvised explosive devices and construction equipment.

"Right now there are certain moves in the United States coming from the past, such as the weapons assistance to the YPG", Erdogan said.

Yildirim said US officials told Turkey they can extend various cooperation to combat the PKK, such as intelligence-sharing and monitoring financial resources.

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The slow pace of US efforts to take Islamic State strongholds Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq have produced a risky USA move in relations with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey.

"We are very mindful of the Turkish concerns on this", Davis said. Kurds are an ethnic group predominantly concentrated along the borders of four countries — Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The YPG is the main component of the SDF.

"They say it's a very hard decision. they don't have any other alternatives, so on and so forth", the senior Turkish official said. We are in a vicious circle. The letter borrows heavily from talking points the Turkish Presidency used previously. "Could you accept that kind of decision?" We have fought in Somalia, in Kosovo, in Macedonia, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. These are terrorist organizations. The airport is located in the hardline militants' remaining enclave in the eastern Aleppo countryside, a region where they have mostly lost control to competing forces ranging from the Syrian army, US-backed Kurdish-led forces to Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels.

The YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, a Pentagon statement announcing the decision said, is "the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future". "They've been saying that for a year now".

Even so, Turkey is a part of the USA -led coalition fighting Islamic State, and US jets conduct airstrikes against the group from Turkey's Incirlik Air Base.

"There is a huge question mark over which way the relationship is going to go", he said. "The United States is trying to substitute a threat, which is against the West's interests, with a threat against Turkey".

The US-led coalition officials told Rudaw English it had seen "open source" reports of written agreement between the SDF and the coalition guaranteeing that SDF would be the only force to liberate Raqqa; however, the official said they were not able to confirm their validity.

Most recently, a CHP MP, Öztürk Yılmaz, criticized the governing party and Erdoğan for failing to stand up against the U.S. At the same time, the party is expected to warn the governing party to avoid putting Turkey in the position of North Korea by antagonizing the worldwide community.

Other reports by GizPress

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