Published: Sat, May 13, 2017
World | By Tasha Manning

Erdogan hopeful for breakthrough in dispute on arming Kurds

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 U.S. as well".

The Pentagon did not share details on how it will oversee how the weapons are used, but "even if the US could control its weapons, it would be hard to convince Turkey and Turks that PKK attacks in Turkey (which I expect to explode in three to six months) are not somehow carried out through USA hardware", Burak Kadercan, an assistant professor of strategy and policy at the United States Naval War College, told Syria Deeply. Syrian Kurdish forces, also known as the YPG, are fighting under the umbrella of the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces, alongside Syrian Arab forces.

John Dorrian - the spokesman for the US-led coalition against ISIS called Operation Inherent Resolve - earlier tweeted that almost all of the city has been seized and that fighters were clearing two neighborhoods.

It's also not clear how credible the U.S. assurances will be taken, as they made materially the same promise over the former ISIS city of Manbij, just a bit to the west of Raqqa, and Kurdish forces ultimately kept the city under their control, with the United States even sending troops to prevent Turkey invading the city. A senior American official said the USA will step up joint intelligence-sharing with the Turks to help them better target terrorists.

Turkey has also repeatedly threatened to cancel a migrant readmission agreement with the European Union and a $6 billion refugee deal with the bloc, slamming Brussels for not keeping to its side of the bargain and providing visa-free travel for Turkish citizens. The official, who wasn't authorized to discuss the issue publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the US has yet to provide the weapons.

As it expects "no good result" out of next week's meeting of the Turkish and USA presidents in Washington, Turkey's main opposition party Thursday suggested the government should cancel it.

A USA official told media that the United States was looking to boost intelligence cooperation with Turkey to support its fight against the PKK.

"Every single one of these weapons that are being provided to our partner force, we intend to account for them, and to ensure that they are pointed at ISIL", he said.

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"We do not want any other forces to participate with us", said Abdelqader.

Turkey considers that this decision will threaten the country's national security.

Turkish press reports indicate that Erdogan's advance team in Washington was also lobbying hard to get the United States to come around to Ankara's position on this topic.

Erdogan is due to meet President Donald Trump during his May 16-17 trip to Washington. Approving a plan of sending arms to Kurdish rebels fighting ISIS, he aggravated the situation in the Middle East even more.

The expected to provide supplies such as heavy machine guns, mortars, antitank weapons, armored cars and engineering equipment, according to the New York Times.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled that Germany will refuse Trump's demands to bring forward planned increases in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spending, saying that extra outlays already are being made.

Erdogan, who had a fraught relationship with former president Barack Obama, said his meeting with Trump next week would be decisive.

Merkel, speaking Thursday in Berlin after talks with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on the goals of the May 25 meeting, said the German government was committed to raising spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2024 "and is working on it". Jazz noted a number of issues that raise questions about why Trump's receiving Erdogan at the White House at all, let alone after publicly threatening to attack our Kurdish allies just as they're about ready to step off against ISIS in Raqqa.

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