Turkey is supporting Kurds in Syria and is only against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said amid reports that other Syrian groups could be invited to a planned conference on Syria’s future.
“The YPG is not the sole representative of the Kurds. Actually, it represents only a small portion of them,” Çavuşoğlu said in an interview with the private broadcaster NTV when asked about the issue.
Ankara sees the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), hence a terrorist group.
“Forget how they force people into joining their armed group. Kurds currently cannot go back to the 20 percent of the Syrian lands controlled by the YPG. We are not against our Kurdish brothers, we stand with them,” Çavuşoğlu said.
When asked if Kurdish groups other than the YPG could join a conference on Syria’s future to be organized by Russia, Çavuşoğlu sounded positive.
“Iran is also against the YPG’s presence here. We handed the list of those who represent the Kurds to Russia,” he said.
His remarks followed reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin offered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during their meeting in Ankara on Dec. 11 to invite Syrian Kurdish groups not included in the YPG to the planned conference.
‘Trump scares some Arab countries’
Some Arab countries have failed to sufficiently repudiate Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital because U.S. President Donald Trump “scares them,” Çavuşoğlu said, promising a strong statement on Jerusalem from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) extraordinary summit due to take place in Istanbul on Dec. 13.
“If we don’t defend Jerusalem today, when will we defend it? If we don’t defend Jerusalem, one of the three most sacred places of Islam, what will we defend?” Çavuşoğlu said.
“It seems some Arab countries refrain from challenging Trump,” he said.
The foreign minister added that representatives from the 57-member OIC would convene in Istanbul to issue a strong statement on Jerusalem on behalf of the Islamic world under the title “Istanbul Declaration.”
As term president of the OIC, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would preside over the summit, Çavuşoğlu also noted.
OIC leaders will conclude ongoing talks over the technical details of the declaration on Dec. 13, Çavuşoğlu said, hinting that the text would cite East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine with pre-1967 borders.
At the end of the 1948 war the armistice line divided Jerusalem in two: the Israel-controlled Western part, and the Jordan-controlled eastern part, which included the old walled city containing important Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious sites. Since the six day war in 1967 the whole city has been under Israel’s control.