Europe, Operation Peace Spring

'West failed to address Turkey’s concerns over Syria'

Turkey would never accept a PKK state on its border, says former German foreign minister

Ayhan Şimşek   | 10.10.2019
'West failed to address Turkey’s concerns over Syria' Former German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel

BERLIN 

Former German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has sharply criticized the U.S. for providing support to groups in northern Syria linked to the PKK terrorist organization despite repeated warnings from its NATO ally Turkey and consequently creating a deep rift between Washington and Ankara. 

“The mistakes already began under the Obama administration,” Gabriel said in an exclusive interview with the Bild daily.

“The then U.S. President [Barack Obama] wanted to withdraw the U.S. troops and decided to cooperate with the YPG in order to fill the vacuum. Of course he knew that, despite the denials, the Syrian branch of the PKK would gain control over territories in northeastern Syria,” he added.

Gabriel, a prominent Social Democrat politician who served as foreign minister from 2017 to 2018, recalled that Turkey had long viewed the PKK’s Syrian affiliate the YPG as a major security threat.

“It must have been clear to all that Turkey would never allow the formation of a PKK state on its Syrian border. Turkey will never let the PKK/YPG fill the current power vacuum,” he stressed.

The PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union, waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years and has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people.

Germany’s former top diplomat also criticized the European countries for closing their eyes to Syria’s bloody civil war for too long and turning down Turkey’s proposals to create a no-fly zone in Syria to protect the civilian population.

“That failed because of the vetoes by many European countries, including Germany. Looking back, it was probably a mistake,” he said.

“Now it is too late to do something.”

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