U.S. sanctions-lifting in Syria’s Kurdish-controlled regions unacceptable - Erdoğan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday denounced a decision by the United States to lift sanctions in regions of Syria controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as being unacceptable.
Erdoğan said it was “not possible’’ for Turkey to accept the decision by Washington, Hürriyet newspaper reported, but added that Ankara was waiting on a statement from U.S. President Joe Biden on the matter before taking a clear stance.
Washington on Thursday authorized some foreign investment in areas of northern Syria, which remain outside government control, including areas in north and east Syria controlled by the U.S.-allied SDF, Washington’s main ally against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria. The decision is an exception to the U.S. Caesar Act, which bans companies from investing or doing business with Damascus.
Turkey sees the SDF and its affiliates as offshoots of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a four-decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil and has led a number of cross-border offensives against the Kurdish-led group over the years.
"We do not have the luxury of disregarding terrorists. We say this to all countries that seem friendly to us," Hürriyet cited Erdoğan as saying.
Earlier on Friday, Turkish Foreign Minsiter Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu called the U.S. sanctions exemption decision “a selective and discriminatory move,” Hurriyet Daily News reported.
“Here, we see an effort for legitimizing the PKK, the YPG,” he added. “This decision is taken on certain grounds and without consulting with anyone.”
In 2015, Washington partnered with the the predominantly Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) to form the SDF. It has provided the group with arms, training, and air support to defeat ISIS. But Ankara regards the YPG as an existential threat over the group’s historical links to PKK, and has repeatedly pushed for the United States to end its support for the SDF.