DAMASCUS, SYRIA (01:40 PM) – Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu has clarified the new Turkish policy regarding Syria, both the Syrian government and the Kurdish forces in the north of the country. Cavusoglu did this on Tuesday, in the wake of the recent ISIS defeat in both Syria and Iraq.
“”Currently, there is no need to speak about the Syrian regime [government] being a threat to us,” the minister stated, indicating a possible reversal of prior Turkish policy that supported so-called “moderate” rebels in Syria.
Regarding the mostly Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Turkish minister was far less cordial, stating that Turkey is willing to cooperate with Russia in case any military operations against Kurdish forces in northern Syria would be considered necessary. However, the Russian government has so far refused to comment on this statement, and has repeatedly called for the inclusion of the Kurdish organisations in the peace process in Syria.
Cavusoglu’s statement comes after conflicting reports indicate a possible change in US policy towards Syria as well, with some saying that the United States is willing to drop the call for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s removal from power entirely.
Last week, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised the United States over continued arms supplies to the YPG, and stated that the Trump government “broke a promise” it had made to Ankara to stop doing so. The YPG is considered by Ankara to be an affiliate of the Workers’ Party of Kurdistan (PKK), which is considered a terrorist movement in Turkey.
Relations between the United States and Turkey have soured significantly over the past year, with many in Turkey accusing Washington of having been behind the attempted coup in July 2016. With the recent recognition by Donald Trump of Jerusalem as the “capital of Israel”, relations have become even more tense, leading to Ankara seeking closer cooperation with Moscow and perhaps even Damascus.