Turkey’s Erdoğan warns of backstabbing from allies

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said allies attempting to stab Turkey in the back in its operation to clear Syrian Kurdish forces from around the northern Syrian towns of Afrin and Manbij would not succeed, the secular newspaper Hürriyet said.

Erdoğan on Monday threatened to destroy a 30,000 border force being set up by U.S. forces in northern Syria and made up mostly of Syrian Kurdish militia. Turkey sees any move towards setting up a viable Kurdish entity in northern Syria as a threat to its own territorial integrity likely to encourage demands for autonomy from its own large restive Kurdish population.

“Neither apparent allies trying to stab us in the back will prevent us from undertaking the Afrin operation, nor apparent politicians who were actually marginal supporters of terrorism,” Erdoğan told a meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“We are not going to be fooled by those who try to set up a terrorist army along our borders,” he said in reference to the U.S.-backed border force.

“We gave the game away in Iraq in the past. We stabbed a dagger in the heart of the game in Syria with the operation Euphrates Shield. Hopefully, in a short time we will destroy other terrorists’ nests in Syria’s Afrin and Manbij,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying.

Euphrates Shield was a Turkish-led military operation together with Syrian opposition forces in Syria between August 2016 and March 2017 that ended in the capture of a chunk of Syrian territory between Afrin and Manbij.

Erdoğan also said he had a few reprimands to NATO, the newspaper said.

“Hey NATO! You are obliged to take a position against those who violate the borders of your member countries. What kind of position you have taken so far?” Erdoğan said. “We told this to them. Our chief of general staff is going to talk about this issue at a meeting in Belgium.”