Turkey Calls for Removal of US Envoy in Anti-Daesh Alliance Over Support for Kurds

Published May 18th, 2017 - 03:00 GMT
A Kurdish YPG fighter in Karamah outside Raqqa (Delil Souleiman/AFP)
A Kurdish YPG fighter in Karamah outside Raqqa (Delil Souleiman/AFP)

Turkey has called for the removal of the US official coordinating the international coalition fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria amid growing tensions between Ankara and other members of the Washington-led alliance.

On Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused US diplomat Brett McGurk of backing the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

“Brett McGurk is definitely giving support to PKK and YPG. It would be useful if this person was replaced,” Cavusoglu told the private NTV television.

Turkey has stepped up its attacks against PKK positions in northern Iraq and YPG outposts in Syria over the past few weeks.

This is while the US administration is set to use YPG forces in a planned US-led offensive to retake Daesh’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made it clear that he expects a turnaround from Washington on such a move.

Tensions are also running high between Turkey and another coalition member, Germany, after Ankara refused to grant permission to German lawmakers to visit their country’s soldiers serving in Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey.

On Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s top spokesman Steffen Seibert condemned Turkey’s decision and warned that Berlin would now “look into alternative locations” for its military personnel.

Germany has more than 250 troops deployed to Incirlik, using the airbase for flying Tornado jets over Syria and refueling flights as part of the US-led coalition allegedly battling Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer suggested that Turkey’s rejection of the visit was tied to Berlin’s decision to grant asylum to Turkish soldiers accused by Ankara of participating in last year’s failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

German media have reported that over 400 Turkish military personnel, diplomats, judges and other officials and their relatives had sought political asylum in Germany.

The original article was edited for clarity.

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