Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday described US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s idea of arming the PYD's militant wing YPG in northern Syria was "unfortunate."
There is growing concern in Turkey over US support for the YPG, the Syrian branch of the PKK. Even though the PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the US, Washington has been working with the YPG in the war against Daesh in Syria
Clinton on Sunday said she “would also consider arming the Kurds” if elected as the president. Although she did not mention the PYD or the YPG specifically by name, her remarks have been interpreted in Ankara as referring to the terrorist group.
Speaking at a ceremony for appointing judges and prosecutors in Ankara, Erdogan said Clinton’s remarks were based on "political inexperience.”
— Turkish Presidency (@trpresidency) 13 October 2016
"This should not be done,” said Erdogan. “Because the sensibilities of the region are different. Such a step cannot be taken in a period when there are these sensibilities."
"Are not you aware that you cause the deaths of 600,000 people through the arms that you give? Where is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Where is the law? Where is the importance of human life? No one places importance on this."
The PKK has fought a three-decade war against Turkey in which more than 40,000 people have died.
Turkey has repeatedly said that arming the PYD/YPG is a source of concern, as the group poses a threat to Turkey.
Relations between Turkey and the US, two NATO allies, have also been strained following US General Joseph Votel’s comments on an attempted coup in Turkey in July that left 241 people dead and some 2,200 injured.
He said a number of the US military’s closest allies in the Turkish military have been placed in jail following the coup attempt.
“We’ve certainly had relationships with a lot of Turkish leaders, military leaders in particular,” Gen. Votel said. “I’m concerned about what the impact is on those relationships as we continue.”
More than 1,600 military personnel including 149 generals, have been removed from the army due to their links to the failed coup.
Turkey accuses FETO, an outlawed network led by US-based Fetullah Gulen, of organising the putsch. The group is also accused of running a campaign to overthrow the government through the infiltration of Turkish state institutions like the military, the police, and the judiciary.