Nov 13 2017

Erdoğan slams U.S. as Trump, Putin agree on Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticised a call by the United States and Russia for a political solution to the Syrian problem, saying their military activities in the country told a different story about their intentions.

Erdoğan singled out the United States for special criticism, saying events on the ground in Syria and Iraq showed Washington was not sincere.

“People are saying one thing and doing another … Let’s not try and fool the world. We know what's going on in the region better than anyone,” Erdoğan told reporters on Monday before departing for meetings in Russia with President Vladimir Putin.

Erdoğan said that if the United States and Russia wanted a political solution to the seven-year war in Syria, then they should withdraw their military forces from the country. The United States has five air bases in northern Syria and a further eight military bases. Russia also has five in the country, he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Putin issued a joint presidential statement after meeting in Danang, Vietnam at the weekend, saying there was no military solution to the conflict in Syria, while underlining their determination to defeat the Islamic State.

Erdoğan claimed Washington had sent 3,500 lorries full of armaments into Syria, to Kurdish groups the YPG and PYD, or to their own bases. “If that’s not for military purposes, then what?” he said.

The Turkish president referred back to the start of the 2003 Iraq war, when Ankara voted against letting U.S. troops across its soil, instead calling for a diplomatic solution to avoid war. President Barack Obama later stated that American troops would withdraw from Iraq, but U.S. troops still remain in the country, he said.

“While it’s obvious what the realities are, there are such voices coming out of Vietnam,” Erdoğan said. “My apologies, but this is not something that can be explained.”