Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan boosted his criticism of the United States as his forces began ground and air operations against Kurdish militias inside Syria.
Erdogan’s words gave the clearest indication yet that the strain between the two NATO allies is higher than it has been in the history of the alliance.
“One must be a fool not to understand that this treacherous project’s target is Turkey,” Erdogan said. “They refused to give arms to us with money but they are giving weapons to the terrorist organization free of charge. Why are we strategic partners? Why are we strategic allies?”
Turkey believes that the Kurdish group YPG, which the U.S. is backing in its war against ISIS, is a terrorist organization. The group insists that al it is interested in is forming an enclave of its own.
NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller arrived in Ankara on Monday and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Jonathan Cohen was also expected to arrive later in the day for talks with Turkish officials.
What triggered Ankara’s invasion was a plan by the U.S. to use the Kurdish militias fighting against ISIS and the Syrian regime and others to form a 30,000-strong armed border security force. Erdogan sees the force as a threat to Turkish security.
The U.S. “is telling us that the duration of the operation should be clear,” Erdogan said in Ankara. “When will your operation in Afghanistan end? Is your operation in Iraq over?” [source]