Politics, World

Trump must properly assess YPG threat to Turkey: expert

Incoming US president needs to realize PYD/YPG threat for better relations with Turkey, think thank leader says

22.11.2016
Trump must properly assess YPG threat to Turkey: expert WASHINGTON, USA - NOVEMBER 21: Kilic Kanat, Research Director of The SETA Foundation, speaks during a panel discussion on U.S.-Turkey Relations Under the Trump Administration hosted by the SETA Foundation in Washington, USA on November 21, 2016. ( Samuel Corum - Anadolu Agency )

By Esra Kaymak Avci

WASHINGTON

U.S.-Turkey relations could be damaged if President-elect Donald Trump's administration continues to not see the significant threat coming from the terrorist PKK’s affiliates against Turkish national security, an expert said Monday.

Speaking during a panel at The Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), a Turkish think tank, the organization’s research director, Kilic Bugra Kanat, said he hoped the “lack of communication” between Ankara and Washington did not remain as it has under President Barack Obama.

The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and EU, but Washington does not consider the PYD/YPG as a terrorist entity but a “reliable partner“ in Syria to fight Daesh.

The PKK-affiliated Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the YPG in Syria, martyred more than 600 security personnel in Turkey’s southeastern border since July 2015.

According to Kanat, the Obama administration emphasized that Daesh was a bigger threat to Turkey than the PYD/YPG and underestimated the significant threat terrorist groups posed to Turkey’s national security.

“So, if Trump administration approaches [the issue] by saying that PYD at this point, is not a significant threat, it would create the same reaction [as Obama’s administration] in Turkey,” Kanat said. “There should be an appreciation of the national security threat that PYD, YPG or PKK is causing to Turkey.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey told the panel Trump’s proposed policies are not based on existential threats in the Middle East but more on a superficial approach like “ISIS is bad”.

National security reporter at the Washington Post, Adam Entous, said the fight against Daesh would become “more intensive” with Trump and lead to better relations with Turkey for continued access to Incirlik – a U.S. airbase in southeastern Turkey.

Meanwhile, the experts agreed Trump would push for the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) ringleader Fetullah Gulen’s extradition from U.S. in an effort to foster better relations between the two countries. Gulen is the mastermind behind the failed July 15 coup attempt, according to Turkey. Ankara has officially asked for his extradition since July 19.

“I think Trump will go more after Gulen … much more aggressively,” Jeffrey told Anadolu Agency after the panel. However, he added that the U.S. “can’t just ship him back” but has to follow the official procedure to extradite him based on a mutual treaty in 1979. 

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