Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is once again blasting what he’s deemed US support of “terrorists” after a major incident in which Kurdish militants reportedly executed 13 kidnapped Turks in northern Iraq.
Ankara on Monday summoned the US ambassador to express outrage at the lukewarm American statement on the killings which appeared to question the credibility of the Turkish claims.
“The United States said it stood by fellow NATO member Turkey and that it condemned the killings if it was confirmed that responsibility lay with the PKK,” according to a Reuters summation of the State Department statement. Erdogan and top officials were outraged, with the president in a speech before AK Party supporters calling the US official stance “a joke” and “ridiculous”.
“Now there is a statement made by the United States. It’s a joke. Were you not supposed to stand against the PKK, the YPG? You clearly support them and stand behind them,” Erdogan said, enraged by what’s being perceived as US skepticism over Turkey’s version of events.
The summary execution allegation against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was leveled on Sunday, and included claims the PKK had killed Turkish military and police which had been previously captured. Turkish officials described some of its forces were captured on Feb.10 during an operation against Kurdish militants in which 48 PKK members were killed.
Below is the US statement that Erdogan accused of being intentionally weak:
“We stand with our NATO Ally Turkey and extend our condolences to the families of those lost in the recent fighting. The United States deplores the death of Turkish citizens in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
Price said that if reports that the PKK was responsible were confirmed, they “condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”
Erdogan was visibly angry in a Monday speech he gave to supporters at an event in a coastal Black Sea town:
Turkey’s President Erdogan on PKK killing of Turkish citizens in Iraq:
– US stands with PYD/YPG terrorists who killed our forces
– Must stop support for terrorists, either stand with Turkey or against it
– Statement on massacre is a joke pic.twitter.com/46UCldFgxt
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) February 15, 2021
Tensions between the US and Turkey have already been on edge for years given the US backing for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria. Addressing this, Erdogan continued:
“If we are together with you in NATO, if we are to continue our unity, then you will act sincerely towards us. Then, you will stand with us, not with the terrorists.”
The US has closely worked with Syrian Kurdish YPG/YPJ forces in northern Syria despite Turkey officially seeing them as but an extension of the “terrorist” PKK, thus it’s not the first time Erdogan has denounced the US being ‘in league with terrorists’ while undermining a NATO partner.
Adding to these tensions, President Biden has lately vowed to toughen the US stance against Turkey, which could go so far as sanctions, particularly over its acquirement of Russian S-400 anti-air defense systems.