Major cracks in the U.S. plan to pull troops out of Syria – on display Tuesday in Turkey, where U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is wrapping up a visit – that did not include a meeting with the Turkish president. Instead, we heard angry words from Recep Tayyip Erdogan — over U.S. promises of safety for Kurds – considered terrorists by Turkey.
CGTN’s Michal Bardavid reports.
Erdogan was furious while delivering his speech to parliament on Tuesday, his anger directed at the adviser who, during a weekend visit to Israel, had pledged safety for U.S.-allied Kurdish militias – as a condition for U.S. troop pullout from Syria.
“It is not possible for us to accept and stomach the message Bolton gave from Israel. Regarding this matter, Bolton has made a serious mistake and whoever thinks like this has also made a mistake. It is not possible for us to make compromises on this point. Those who are part of the terror corridor in Syria will receive the necessary lesson. There is no single difference between the PKK, YPG, PYD and Daesh,” President Erdogan said.
It now appears Bolton, who had set aside two days for meetings in Turkey, will not meet with Erdogan at all. Some reports describe this as a “snub” – while official reports point only to the president’s busy schedule.
Bolton instead met with his Turkish counterpart, Presidential Adviser Ibrahim Kalin, to discuss terms of a potential U.S. withdrawal. One of Turkey’s main concerns regards the weapons Washington provided the Kurds to support the group in the fight against ISIL and what becomes of them now.
“What is really important is what will be left behind and how; whether the weapons will be collected or not, what will happen to the U.S. bases there. Our expectation is for all weapons to be collected and for the military bases to be emptied and handed over to local elements there,” said Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin.
Meanwhile, Ankara remains poised to launch an operation against the Kurds in Syria, delayed due to the U.S. announcement of a pull-out.
Turkey has been boosting its’ military presence on both sides of the Syrian border for weeks. On Tuesday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that the Turkish military was ready to carry out a cross border operation any day now.
“We are determined to take steps against terrorist organizations such as PYD and YPG along with Daesh. We will mobilize to neutralize these terrorist organizations in Syrian lands very soon,” Erdogan added.
Though Turkey has agreed to coordinate with the U.S. regarding the expected operation, Kalin stressed that Turkey would not be seeking anyone’s permission for it.