Supporters of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s president, say that by aiding and arming Syrian Kurdish fighters, Washington is, in effect, facilitating terrorist outrages of the kind that left 39 people dead in an Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s Eve and claimed four lives at Izmir’s courthouse on Thursday.
Turkish authorities say heavily armed PKK separatists from Turkey’s large Kurdish minority, allied to Syria’s Kurdish PYD, were behind a plot that, had it not been thwarted by the mortal bravery of a lone policeman, Fethi Seminole, could have produced mass casualties.
Repeated Turkish demands that the Obama administration cut its ties to the PYD, which shares its aim of toppling the Syrian regime, have been ignored. A day after Izmir, defence minister, Fikri Işık, voiced Ankara’s mounting anger and frustration. If the US did not think again, Turkey could bar US and western coalition forces from the Incirlik air base used for operations against Isis. More than that, he warned, Turkey would review its membership of Nato.
“The US chose the PYD as a partner in the fight with Daesh (Isis). From the beginning, we have been saying this is wrong,” Işık said. “The PYD is the Syrian wing of the PKK. The US made a strategic mistake. We are paying its price as the US will also pay the price… The US is our ally in Nato. The basis of our alliance should be transparent and genuine. In the absence of these, it would be hard to sustain this alliance.”