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    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses the audience during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, October 3, 2016. Picture taken October 3, 2016.

    Erdogan Seeking 'New Beginning' With US After Trump's Decision to Arm Kurds

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    Despite the recent decision by the US to arm Syrian Kurds with heavy weapons, Turkey’s president says he sees a possible “new beginning” in US-Turkish relations ahead of his trip to Washington.

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters during a ceremony in Afyonkarahisar, Turkey March 15, 2017
    © REUTERS / Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Palace/Handout
    Though observers anticipated the recent decision by the Trump administration to arm Syrian Kurds — perennial enemies of Ankara — would shake US-Turkish relations, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems to have taken it lightly.

    According to Erdogan, the decision to arm the YPG — the Syrian branch of PKK, the Kurdish' Workers Party — is, in fact, a remnant of the administration of previous US President Barack Obama, with whom Erdogan had not exactly warm relations.

    "The United States is still going through a transition period. And we have to be more careful and sensitive," he told a news conference at the Ankara airport before departing for China and then the United States, where he will meet US President Donald Trump next week.

    "Right now there are certain moves in the United States coming from the past, such as the weapons assistance to the YPG," he said. "These are developments that are in contradiction to our strategic relations with the United States and of course we don't want this to happen."

    The remarks are a change from the harsh criticism Ankara expressed earlier, right after the US announced its decision. Two days ago, Erdogan said: "We want to believe that our allies will prefer to side with us, not with a terrorist organization," while Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters the US' failure to consider Turkey's interests "will surely have consequences and will yield a negative result for the US as well."

    During the recent press conference, however, Erdogan said he thinks his upcoming meeting with Donald Trump has the potential to change the direction of US-Turkish relations.

    "I actually see this US visit as a new beginning in our ties," he said.

    Yildirim suggested the meeting would be an opportunity for the US to "correct the mistake" of arming the YPG.

    According to US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who talked to Yildirim in London on Thursday, there is no doubt the two countries can work through the tensions caused by the decision to arm the YPG.

    At this moment, the US seems need Kurdish forces as an instrument against Daesh in Syria. But the future of relations between the US and the Kurds after the defeat of Daesh is highly uncertain, as US has a lengthy history of siding with and then betraying the Kurds throughout the 20th century, according to Ben Norton, a reporter for AlterNet's Grayzone Project. It is likely the US will abandon its support for the Kurds once Daesh is routed and turn back to its NATO ally, Turkey, he recently told Radio Sputnik.

     

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    Tags:
    Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Donald Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, United States
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