US Senator Lindsey Graham linked the pro-Kurdish armed group in Syria (YPG) to Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) during his recent visit to Ankara, reported Turkish media.
Senator Graham arrived in Ankara on Friday after an invitation to attend a piano concert of the infamous Turkish Composer, Fazil Say, together with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
President Erdogan and Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar met separately with Senator Graham to exchange views on recent developments in the region, including Syria. On Saturday, following these closed-door meetings, Graham addressed the issues and made comments on the interlinking and interconnectedness of Kurdish armed groups in Syria to PKK, which is banned in Turkey.
Evidence of links
“There is sufficient evidence that People’s Protection Unit (YPG) and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have links,” commented Graham. “We have to protect Turkey and we need to address the YPG/PKK problem that we have exposed in Syria.”
US President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw US troops from Syria raised some complexities regarding the power vacuum after US forces leave the area. President Trump strictly demanded that Turkey not attack Kurdish groups in Syria after American soldiers left, although Turkey denies it with an equivalent tone and says YPG is a terrorist organization.
US troop withdrawal
Referring to US troops’ withdrawal from Syria, Graham said, “I guess Dunford, the US Chief of Staff, has a plan to withdraw soldiers. They work with Ankara to keep Kurdish armed group YPG away from the Turkish border. The safe zone will be established for the security of Turkey.”
Commenting on Turkey’s ongoing worries and red lines (not to arm Kurdish fighters in Syria), Graham said, “I know what arming YPG means to Turkey.”
The US and Turkey differ on their views of armed Kurdish groups in Syria. The US sees them as the most reliable ally on fighting against ISIS (Islamic State), while Turkey classifies YPG as an offshoot of PKK, which has been waging an armed insurgency in Turkey for decades. “A withdrawal that does not outline the points I have made will not end the war against ISIS, it will start a new war,” said Graham.
The US Senator Lindsey Graham’s short visit to Ankara is widely considered as part of US efforts to avoid a derailment of relations with Turkey.
“The negotiated road-map on Manbij should be implemented. That is the best improvement gained in near future,” said Graham.