Ankara (AFP): Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday blasted US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s “unfortunate” comments that she would consider arming Syrian Kurdish fighters, branding her proposal “politically inept.”
“It is a very unfortunate statement,” Erdogan said in a televised speech at the presidential palace in Ankara. “To be honest I see it as politically inept.”
During a debate on Sunday with her Republican rival Donald Trump ahead of next month’s presidential election, Clinton suggested that she would consider providing armed support for Syrian Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State group.
“The Kurds have been our best partners in Syria, as well as Iraq. And I know there’s a lot of concern about that in some circles,” she said in the debate.
“But I think they should have the equipment they need so that Kurdish and Arab fighters on the ground are the principal way that we take Raqa after pushing ISIS out of Iraq,” she added, referring to a future bid to dislodge IS from its de facto capital in Syria.
US support for Syrian Kurdish forces has strained relations between the two NATO allies.
Turkey sees both the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia as terror groups linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK has waged a bloody campaign against the Turkish state since 1984, which has left over 40,000 people dead.
Washington however sees Kurdish groups as the most effective forces in the anti-IS fight in Syria and Iraq.
On Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also criticised Clinton’s comments.
“Isn’t the United States our ally in NATO, in the region? What does it mean providing armed support?” he said.