Syria, Iraq and Kurds in the agenda during Tillerson’s visit to Ankara

Syria, Iraq and Kurds in the agenda during Tillerson’s visit to Ankara


The US made clear their continued support to the Kurds in the fight against the Islamic state

US Secretary of State Tillerson Rex rushed to Ankara to discuss the developments in Syria and Iraq, during whcih he had separate meetings with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, President of Turkey Recep Tayip Erdogan and his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Cavusoglu.

The key issue of disagreement remains the support given by the US to the Kurds of northern Syria, which despite Ankara’s appeals, Tilerson Ankara showed that the new Trump administration will continue the same policy as Obama.

In a joint press conference of the two ministers, Tillerson clarified that “the fate of President Bashar Al Assad should be decided by the Syrian people.” In the past the US and Turkey were demanding the immediate withdrawal of Assad.

Tillerson said that “there is no distance between the US and Turkey on their determination to defeat the Islamic State”.

The US Secretary of State said discussions focused “in the creation of stabilization zones in Syria and that a number of options were investigated on how to ensure security in such areas”. He didn’t clarify however if he reached some kind of agreement.

Erdogan, however, insisted it is important that in Syria “the cooperation against terrorism be done with the right and legitimate players”, as Turkey considers the Kurdish YPG as a terrorist organization.

The Turkish side did not have a lot of room for maneuvering at the talks, as it is cornered with the arrest the day before yesterday in the US of the vice president of the Turkish bank Halkbank for illegal financial transactions with Iran and other countries, in addition to the US travel directive for Turkey.

Both the Turkish President and Cavusoglu discussed with Tillerson the possibility of the extradition of the imam Fethullah Gulen but the American minister seems to have respond with vaguely to that request.

Tilerson said in the joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu said that “Turkey is a key partner in the fight against the Islamic State”. Cavusoglu on his part said that Turkey expects better cooperation with the Trump administration on the issue of Syria.

The Turkish minister argued that the US government accepts that there is no difference between the YPG Syrian militia Kurds and the PKK, while he expressed regret for this cooperation. However, Tillerson made no such statement regarding the YPG.

Cavusoglu called the arrest of the vice-president of Halkbank as political. The banker is being accused of having conspired with the Turkish-Iranian gold mrechant Zaramp Reza, who is on trial in the US.

The FM supported at the joint interview with Tillerson that the American prosecutor who ordered the prosecution against Zaramp has close relations with supporters of Fethullah Gülen.

Tillerson declined to comment on these statements.

However, reports indicate that it is no coincidence that a few hours before the arrival of the US Secretary of State, Yildirim said the Shield operation of the Euphrates in Syria had been completed. Also after talks Turkey’s plans to buy Russian weapons systems is expected to be postponed.

At the same time there will be no active participation of Turkey in the ground operations in Raka and in Mosul.

The columnist of Hurriyet, Abdulkadir Selvi says information received from the government officials show that the “Yes” vote leads in the polls. More specifically, he claims “it has reached 55% if one takes into account those who vote from abroad”. Polls show that the battle of the referendum will be held in Istanbul, where 20% of the voters lives and so far polls show that the rates are 50-50./IBNA