“You cannot eliminate terrorists with terrorists”, Turkey tells Trump

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched a tirade against opponents of his country’s military offensive against the Kurdish-held Syrian enclave of Afrin on Thursday, saying he had even told U.S. President Donald Trump that working with Kurdish militants was a bad idea, state news agency Anadolu said.

“According to their (critics’) logic, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Islamic State (ISIS) can be in Syria; America, Russia, Iran, France, Britain and many other countries can be in Syria under various appearances and excuses; Israel can carry out operations in Syria whenever it chooses, but Turkey, which has a 911-kilometre border with Syria, cannot be in Syria,” Erdoğan said.

“I said ‘You cannot eliminate terrorists with terrorists, you are making a mistake, Mr. Trump’, but unfortunately he still looked to them (the People’s Protection Units - YPG),” he said. “OK, you go your way and we’ll go ours, we said.”

Erdoğan had particularly harsh words for the leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who had supported the Afrin operation but opposed the use of extreme elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

“If you leave it to him, he says ‘sit at the table with Assad and talk about this business’,” Erdoğan said. “What will we talk about with a murderer who has killed 1 million of his citizens?”

“You can get up together with terrorists and march from Ankara to Istanbul … but we have not walked together with the permission of terrorist organisations up until today and we will not in the future.”

Kılıçdaroğlu and supporters marched between the country’s two biggest cities in June and July 2017, calling for justice in reaction to the arrest of one of his party’s parliamentarians.

“I say ‘shame’ to those so-called-politicians, so-called-intellectuals, those in the guise of academics and artists who do not understand the truth that our citizens in the street understand very well,” Erdoğan said.