Rift: Erdoğan calls anew PYD as terrorists, as USA intensifies dialogue, help

US officials have been directly meeting with representatives of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) to discuss arms transfers to the group in its battle to defend the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, according to a news report.

Citing the Arabic Asharq Al-Awsat, Iraqi Kurdish news portal Rudaw quoted a PYD official as saying that a US delegation and the PYD officials met once again in Duhok in northern Iraq on Thursday after talks in Paris last week, discussing Western and Arab support for the YPG – the armed wing of the PYD.

“They spoke about sending military support to the Kurds in Kobane,” PYD spokesman Nawaf Xelil told Asharq Al-Awsat. He said the PYD and the US had started their talks two years ago but that Washington had kept the issue under the radar “in order not to upset Turkey.”

The US announced on Thursday that a US State Department official held direct talks for the first time last weekend with the PYD. A senior administration official said the talks took place in Paris.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan opposed any arms transfer by the US to the PYD, saying the PYD is a terrorist group just like the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“There has been talk about forming a front against ISIL by giving the PYD arms. But the PYD, for us, is equal to the PKK; it is a terrorist organization,” Erdoğan said in remarks published on Sunday. “It would be very wrong for the US, a NATO ally, to openly talk of such support [to the PYD] and expect us to agree.”

In a related development, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has objected to arms transfers to a Syrian Kurdish group defending the border town of Kobani in the face of an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) onslaught, saying it is a terrorist group that is no different from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The president’s remark followed a US statement last week saying that it has directly met for the first time with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), widely considered to be the PKK’s Syrian arm. The PYD’s armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), has been battling to stop ISIL advances on Kobani for more than a month. The US-led international coalition has been helping Kobani’s defense by hitting ISIL targets in the town.

“There has been talk about forming a front against ISIL by giving the PYD arms. But the PYD, for us, is equal to the PKK; it is a terrorist organization,” Erdoğan said, criticizing the West for not supporting other groups in Syria who also have been fighting against ISIL.

“It would be very wrong for the US, a NATO ally, to openly talk of such support [to the PYD] and expect us to agree,” he said in remarks published on Sunday.

Turkey has said it supports the US-led coalition formed against ISIL but has not joined coalition efforts against the extremist group, insisting on the creation of a “secure zone” and a no-fly zone inside Syria. It also desires a re-definition of the coalition’s mission to include attacks on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as well.In a related development, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and US President Barack Obama have spoken on the phone to discuss Syria, particularly the situation in Kobani, and steps that can be taken to counter advances by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Turkish presidential office and the White House announced on Sunday.


About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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