Mar 06 2018

Ankara businessmen send Afrin message to U.S. envoy

An industrial association in Turkey’s capital city, Ankara, has posted a giant banner on its office directly facing the U.S. Embassy, Turkish newspaper Hürriyet reported on Tuesday.

“No power can obstruct our fight against terror,” read the banner, which covered nearly seven storeys of the Ankara Chamber of Industry’s building.

“This nation stood in the way of a coup, and now we stand besides our soldiers in Operation Olive Branch,” it went on, referring to the ongoing Turkish assault on Kurdish groups in the northwest Syrian enclave of Afrin.

Turkish social media users appreciated the sign and the “ingenuity” the chamber showed in putting it up. One asked “Is the message clear enough?” after noting its position directly across from the embassy.

 

Olive Branch has proven an extreme strain on Turkey’s relations with the United States, which counts the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and affiliated fighters targeted by Turkey’s campaigns as allies in Syria.

Turkey sees these groups as extensions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a terrorist-designated group that has been in intermittent conflict with Turkish forces since launching a separatist insurgency in the 1980s. The prospect of an autonomous Kurdish entity on its Syrian border is viewed by Ankara as a grave threat.

Ankara’s rhetoric around U.S. activities in Syria has also taken a hostile turn since the weeks leading to the launch of Olive Branch, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accusing his NATO allies of supporting terrorist organisations and even threatening to attack the Syrian town of Manbij, where U.S. forces are deployed.

However, the NATO allies are reportedly still in collaboration on the topic of terrorist threats from the Islamic State. The embassy was closed has been closed since Sunday due to security threats, but is due to reopen on Wednesday. Turkish security forces reportedly shared intelligence with their U.S. counterparts, leading to the arrest of four alleged ISIS members planning an attack on the embassy.