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Arming Syria’s Kurds to Top Trump, Erdogan Meeting | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L), Donald Trump (R). AP

Ankara- Developments in Syria, especially with regard to the US decision to arm Kurds in the framework of speeding up the process of liberating Raqqa from ISIS control, have imposed themselves as one of the main issues on the agenda of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Turkish President is scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump for the first time since the latter has taken office on January 21, during a three-day visit to Washington that will start on Monday.

Erdogan stressed in statements before heading to Beijing to participate in “One Belt, One Road” forum, which was held on Sunday, that he was discussing with Trump the US relations with Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.

He considered that Washington’s decision to arm the YPG contradicts with US strategic relations with Turkey, noting that “it is not right to see our US ally alongside a terrorist organization.”

The US decision that was taken one week before Erdogan’s scheduled visit and during the presence of a Turkish delegation, composed of Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar, Intelligence Chief Hakan Fidan, and presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, in the United States represented an unexpected blow to relations between Ankara and Washington, according to what Turkish diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Sources said that Ankara was counting on a new stance from Trump’s administration that differs from that of the former Barack Obama’s administration.

They told Asharq Al-Awsat that Erdogan will focus on this matter based on the Turkish concern about the coming threats from northern Syria and Iraq through the PKK and the YPG.

Erdogan will deliver a clear message about the alliance between Washington and the Kurdish militias in Syria, describing it as incompatible with the strategic alliance between Turkey and the US through NATO, sources added.

Erdogan will also highlight the fact that ISIS cannot be fought through other terrorist organizations and that terrorism cannot be eradicated from any area in the region without Turkey’s help. Turkey has proved to be a successful example in the war against ISIS through Euphrates Shield operation in north Syria, and it can achieve similar success in Raqqa without relying on Kurds.

Sources pointed out that Erdogan will stress that Turkey will launch attacks against Kurds north Syria and Iraq whenever it deems it necessary to protect its security.