Turkish President Erdoğan has once again harshly criticized the United States for providing arms to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), declaring the move to be a violation of the NATO treaty.
“We will be together in NATO, and you will act together with terrorist groups. What kind of business is this? In this case, the NATO treaty should be revised,” Erdoğan said June 25 at a party rally on Eid al-Fitr.
The Pentagon said on May 30 that it had begun to transfer small arms and vehicles to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which mainly consists of YPG militants, despite Turkey’s objections.
Turkey considers the YPG to be an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and hence a terrorist group.
“Unfortunately, the countries we say are our allies, countries we consider friends see no problem in cooperating with terror organizations targeting Turkey’s unity,” Erdoğan said.
“Those who think that they can fool Turkey by saying that they will get those weapons back will eventually understand the vital mistake they made, but it will be too late. We will call to account the real owners of those weapons for every drop of blood they shed with those weapons,” Erdoğan added.
Erdoğan also slammed the U.S. for refusing to extradite preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is widely believed to have masterminded the July 15, 2016, failed coup.
“I don’t know what kinds of a future you will have in Syria with the terrorist organization you chose, but you must know that you will not have a future with us,” the president said.
“And you inflict deep wounds in Turkey’s heart by harboring a terrorist leader who led a coup attempt in our country,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Erdoğan welcomed Qatar’s dismissal of a sweeping list of demands from Saudi Arabia and its allies in an escalating crisis as he declared the ultimatum to be “against international law.”
“We welcome [Qatar’s position] because we consider the 13-point list to be against international law,” Erdoğan told reporters outside a mosque in Istanbul after Eid morning prayers.
Erdoğan said the demands on Qatar had gone “too far.”
“What we are talking about here is an attack on the sovereign rights of a state,” he said. “There cannot be such an attack on countries’ sovereignty rights in international law.”
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain imposed a boycott on June 5 on Qatar and issued 13 demands, including closing the Al Jazeera news network, curbing relations with Iran, shutting a Turkish base and cutting all military ties with Turkey.
The Turkish parliament passed a bill this month allowing Ankara to send up to several thousand troops to the Turkish base in Qatar.
Almost two dozen Turkish troops also arrived in Qatar as Ankara boosts military support for Doha.
Erdoğan on June 25 said demanding the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Qatar was “disrespect to Turkey.”
The Turkish president also repeated an offer to Saudi Arabia to build a military base in the Muslim kingdom, similar to that built in neighboring Qatar.
“If Saudi Arabia wants us to have base there, a step toward this also can be taken. I made this offer to the king himself and they said they will consider this,” he said. “They did not come back to us since that day and even though they still haven’t come back to us on this, asking Turkey to withdraw its troops [from Qatar] is disrespectful toward Turkey.”
He also stood by the defense agreement with Qatar.
“Will we take permission from others when we cooperate on defense with a country? No offense, but Turkey is not an ordinary country; it is not an ordinary state,” he said.
Both Qatar and Turkey backed a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt before it was overthrown in 2013. The Arab states have demanded Qatar cut any links to the brotherhood and other groups they deem to be terrorist, ideological or sectarian.
Turkey, the most powerful regional country to stand by Qatar, has sent 100 cargo planes with supplies since its neighbors cut air and sea links. It has also rushed through legislation to send more troops to its base in Doha.
Two contingents of Turkish troops with columns of armored vehicles have arrived since the crisis erupted on June 5, and Defense Minister Fikri Işık said on June 23 that further reinforcements would be beneficial.
“The strengthening of the Turkish base would be a positive step in terms of the Gulf’s security,” he said. “Re-evaluating the base agreement with Qatar is not on our agenda.”
A joint exercise by Turkish and Qatari forces is expected following the Eid al-Fitr holiday which started on June 25, while the number of Turkish soldiers sent to the Gulf state may eventually reach 1,000.