Why Turkey Took the Fight to Syria.


Byline: H.E. Mr. Mevlut Cavusoglu

It is dismaying that Turkey's military operation in northeastern Syria is being spun in the American news media as an attack on Kurds, as weakening the fight against the remnants of Daesh (or the so-called Islamic State) and hurting America's credibility with its allies. I am compelled to set the record straight because the 67-year-old NATO alliance that Turkey has with the United States is not temporary, tactical nor transactional. Turkey started the operation to ensure its national security by removing the danger posed by terrorists along its border regions.

This operation will liberate Syrians living there from the tyranny of terrorist organizations and eliminate the threat to Syria's territorial integrity and political unity. These two developments would facilitate the safe and voluntary return of displaced Syrians. Turkey has never accepted a corridor run by a terrorist group on its border. We have repeatedly proposed establishing a safe zone, including at the United Nations General Assembly. We have called on the United States to stop providing material support to terrorists.

But the American security bureaucracy couldn't bring itself to disengage from the group, known for short as the P.Y.D./Y.P.G. This is even though American officials, including a secretary of defense, have admitted that the P.Y.D./Y.P.G., which forms the core of Syrian Democratic Forces, is inseparable from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or the P.K.K., in Turkey, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and NATO. Our American interlocutors seemed to agree that those forces needed to be removed from along our borders and we had even agreed on a timeline. Most recently, military-to-military talks in August ended with a mutual commitment to establish a safe zone from which the P.Y.D./Y.P.G. was supposed to be removed.

But the United States did not see this through and gave us the strong impression that it was playing for time as the terrorist group entrenched itself even deeper in Syria. The P.Y.D./Y.P.G. may present itself to the world as the group that fought Daesh, but it also smuggles explosives to the P.K.K. by digging tunnels into Turkish soil. We have found its members ushering Daesh prisoners toward Turkey. And in November 2017, the BBC reported on a secret deal under which the Syrian Democratic Forces arranged transport and allowed hundreds of Daesh terrorists to escape during...

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