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NATO ally Erdogan accuses United States of training terrorists to attack Turkey

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 7/20/2022 Joel Gehrke
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U.S. forces must withdraw from Syria, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who presented a united front with Russia and Iran while accusing the United States of training Kurdish forces “to commit a terrorist act” against his country.

“You see that the American (military) staff there train members of the terrorist organization (YPG/PKK),” Erdogan said, according to Turkish state media. “Their job is to commit a terrorist act against the Turkish soldiers there. Here, too, they think if they are deceiving the Turkish army by waving the regime's flag there. We won't be fooled.”

Erdogan paired that provocative charge with an announcement that he has aligned with Russia and Iran in demanding that U.S. forces leave eastern Syria — an exit that would deliver a major victory to Moscow and Tehran. And his bid to end the American partnership with the Kurdish forces that dismantled the Islamic State coincided with a bombardment in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, which threatens to spark a crisis with the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad.

“This brutal attack underscores the fact that Turkey ignored Iraq’s continuous demands to refrain from military violations against Iraqi territory and the lives of its people,” Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi said Wednesday. “Iraq reserves the full right to respond to these attacks and will take all necessary measures to protect its people and hold the aggressors accountable for the ongoing escalation.”


Turkey denied responsibility for the attack and suggested that Kadhimi has been duped by the Kurdish militants whom Erdogan has claimed the right to target in both Iraq and Syria.

“Turkiye is ready to take all steps to reveal the truth,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry declared. “We invite Iraqi government officials not to make statements under the influence of the rhetoric and propaganda of the treacherous terrorist organization and to cooperate in bringing the real perpetrators of this tragic incident into light.”

The attack killed eight people and injured nearly two dozen more, according to local Kurdish authorities in the Zakho region of northern Iraq. An official there described the bombardment as “Turkish artillery fire.” The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq agreed that the attack was a “deadly artillery shelling.” U.N. officials avoided naming Turkey as the perpetrator, but the news bulletin left little doubt about their view by quoting from a rebuke that U.N. Iraq Special Representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert directed at both Turkey and Iran during an appearance before the U.N. Security Council in May.

"What are we looking at? Shelling and missiles as the new normal for Iraq?” she said. “This is a very risky way to advance interests and one which further weakens the state of Iraq.”

Turkish forces reportedly have established “forty military bases” in the Kurdish region of Iraq.

“As with previous incursions, Turkey used the pretext of fighting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to explain its entry into Kurdish territory,” Washington Kurdish Institute Director Yousif Ismael wrote recently. “However, Turkey has established permanent military bases and posts after each military campaign since 2018.”

The Kurdish people are an ethnic minority separated by the national borders of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria. The PKK has long been designated by the U.S. as a foreign terrorist organization for waging a decadeslong separatist conflict with the Turkish central government, but Iraqi and Syrian Kurds allowed the U.S.-led coalition to defeat ISIS to succeed while deploying only a modest amount of U.S. troops. Erdogan has fumed at this relationship, as he deems the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds to be aligned.

Erdogan sent Turkish forces into Syria to attack Kurdish forces in 2019 despite U.S. protests that the operation would undercut multinational efforts to suppress threats from ISIS. That clash ended with a deal to establish a 20-mile buffer zone between Kurdish militias and Syrian territory, but Erdogan has threatened to renew the offensive in recent months.


“America has to leave east of the Euphrates now. This is an outcome that came out of the Astana process,” Erdogan said, referring to his trilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. "Turkiye expects this as well because it is America that feeds the terrorist groups there.”


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Tags: U.S.-Turkey relations, Turkey, News, Foreign Policy, National Security, Iraq, Syria

Original Author: Joel Gehrke

Original Location: NATO ally Erdogan accuses United States of training terrorists to attack Turkey


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