Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has urged the United States government to make a straightforward decision on the definition of terrorist organisations in Syria, regarding primarily the PYD, which Turkey considers outlawed PKK’s Syrian extension and US considers an ally against the DAESH terrorist group.
Cavusoglu has stated that “US needs to make a decision on who its partner is in the region, is it us or terrorist organisations [in Syria for anti-DAESH fight],” in a joint press conference with his Hungarian counterpart in Budapest on Tuesday.
“Now DAESH is bad because it is radical, but PYD, PKK are better because they are Marxist-Leninist. In other words, they are secular. Could there be an understanding like that?,” Cavusoglu asked.
“Both [PKK and PYD] are terrorist groups. You can not say that one is better than another,” he added.
PKK is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU, and the US.
However, US has recently been trying to draw a distinction between PKK and PYD, which has actively been reinforced by US air strikes against DAESH in northern Syria since September 2014.
The US recognises Turkey’s concerns about Syrian armed groups [PYD] which are linked to the terrorist organisation PKK but will continue to support them, the State Department Spokesman John Kirby said on Monday.
"Kurdish fighters have been some of the most successful in going after DAESH inside Syria. We have provided a measure of support, mostly through the air and that support will continue," Kirby commented on the issue.
Kirby’s comments follow remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who voiced concerns about US support for YPG, the military wing of the PYD.
Criticising Washington’s characterisation of the PYD as a “reliable partner” in the fight against DAESH, Erdogan recently demanded from the US to make a definite choice between its NATO ally Turkey and the PYD for partnership on the anti-DAESH efforts.
Kirby confirmed Turkey is a key ally in the fight against DAESH and, also a NATO member, but noted that friends might not agree on everything.
"We've been managing this particular issue for quite some time. This is not a new concern," he insisted adding that "We don't, as you know, recognise the PYD as a terrorist organisation."
On the other hand, almost half of “YPG’s [total] self-reported casualties between January 2013 and January 2016” have originated in Turkey according to an ongoing study which is conducted by the Atlantic Council, a US think-tank.
Brett McGurk, who is President Obama's envoy to the US-led coalition against DAESH, also recently visited PYD-controlled territories in northern Syria reportedly meeting with the group’s top leaders.
One of the people McGurk has met during his visit was Polat Can who is the current PYD spokesman and a former member of the PKK.
Cavusoglu has strongly criticised the meeting saying that Can is a Qandil mountain [PKK’s headquarters in northern Iraq] originated PKK terrorist.
Kirby has described the gathering as a coincidence when asked about the meeting.
PKK terror attacks have killed more than 300 security officials in Turkey since the group’s umbrella organisation, the KCK, unilaterally ended a two and a half year-long ceasefire with the government on July 11 and threatened Turkey with attacks.
Turkey has long been confronted with armed attacks in its southeastern regions by the PKK, which was founded in 1974 by Abdullah Ocalan and his supporters in Ankara. Armed clashes and acts of violence have continued on and off for more than 30 years, and claimed more than 40,000 lives.