16:45 GMT04 March 2021
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    Ahead of President Erdogan's trip to the US, scheduled for next week, President Trump has approved the supply of weapons to Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State (Daesh) in Syria. Turkish journalist Semih İdiz suggests how these two events might be interconnected.

    Washington would provide ammunition, small arms, machine guns, and construction equipment such as bulldozers and armored vehicles to Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces despite strong objections from the Turkish government.

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that President Trump approved the plan to supply weapons "as necessary to ensure a clear victory" as Kurdish fighters and other militias close in on Raqqa, Daesh’s largest and most important stronghold in Syria.

    Kurdish fighters come from YPG or Kurdish People’s Protection Units, which Turkey sees as an extension of the Kurdistan’s Workers Party (PKK), outlawed in Turkey.

    Sputnik Turkiye discussed the decision with Turkish journalist Semih İdiz, who said that it comes as a clear message to Turkey ahead of the scheduled trip of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the US.

    İdiz called it a "telling signal" but noted that it came as no surprise.

    "During his trip to the US, President Erdogan was planning to demonstrate the pictures which captured the fighters of the Kurdish YPG Units together with the US servicemen. In other words, the tone of his trip would have been demanding. Washington, in its turn, is sending the following message: don't present this issue in this way, it is a settled matter for us," he told Sputnik Turkiye.

    The journalist recalled that Turkey's major concern is that the US weapons delivered to the Syrian Kurds will end up in the hands of the PKK.

    "The major risk, according to Turkey, is that through the YPG, these weapons will end up in the hands of the PKK and will be used against Turkey. The US, in turn, says that it is taking measures to prevent it. However those are only words of consolation as they provide no clear guarantees. We are not talking about several units of weapons here and not about simple machine guns, but about heavy armament and electronic surveillance systems," he told Sputnik.

    He further suggested that the US might hope that this weaponry will be under the control of American consultants operating on the ground and under the steadfast surveillance of NATO, the US and Turkey.

    Ahead of the upcoming visit, Semih İdiz also commented on any possible progress in the extradition of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey suspects of plotting a failed military coup in July.

    "There could be limited progress on the issue, however I don't think Turkey's demands will be satisfied, as not everything is in Trump's hands. There is a very strong system of separation of powers in the US, which has already been demonstrated on a number of instances since Trump came to power. His influence on the country's judicial power is limited," he said.

    The extradition is a very complicated judicial process in the US. The journalist however suggested that certain steps might be made to restrict Gulen's influence in the US, he might be put under observation. But from Turkey's point of view, it will be only aimed at consoling Turkey, he finally stated.

    supplies, weaponry, message, arms, Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Semih Idiz, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Syria, US
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