TEHRAN (defapress)- The United States does not seem to have a "clear strategy" for Syria with different positions coming from various parts of the government, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday.
News ID: 76604
Publish Date: 04April 2019 - 19:50
"Different positions, different statements are coming from institutions and departments here in the United States. State Department and Defense ministry, as well as the military on the ground, CENTCOM, and this and that. All different positions," he said, adding, "There is no clear strategy, this is the problem", Anadolu Agency reported.
Cavusoglu comments came at a NATO event hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington.
He stressed that he did not know what the American policy is in Syria.
US President Donald Trump announced in December that the United States would withdraw American troops from Syria, a move that surprised many of Washington's allies.
The Pentagon then announced in February that a few hundred troops would remain after the US pullout in order to create a safe zone along the Turkey-Syria border.
But Cavusoglu stressed that there were areas in which the two countries have been working together, such as the coordinated withdrawal from Syria, the safe zone along the Turkish-Syria border and the implementation of the Manbij roadmap.
The Manbij deal between Turkey and US focuses on the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the city to stabilize the region, which is located in the Northern part of Syria’s Aleppo province.
"US has been one of our main partners in Syria as well," the foreign minister said, adding, "Even though we disagree on YPG issues."
The US has supported the SDF in Syria --- a group led by the PYD/YPG, the Syrian branch of PKK terror organization. For more than 30 years, the PKK, which is listed as a terror group by Turkey, the US and the EU, has waged a terror campaign against Turkey, that has led to deaths of 40,000 people.
More than 1,200 victims, including security personnel and civilians, have lost their lives since the PKK resorted to acts of terror in July 2015.
Turkey has repeatedly raised security concerns after the announced troop withdrawal, saying the pullout would give room to the PYD/YPG to expand operations.
Also on Wednesday, Cavusoglu said Ankara does not have to choose between Russia and other countries, amid plans to purchase Moscow's S-400 system and F-35 fighter jets from the US.
"We are not choosing between Russia and any other allies," Cavusoglu stated at a NATO event in Washington hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank.
"We don't see our relations with Russia as an alternative to our relations with others. And nobody, neither West nor Russia, should or can ask us to choose between," he added.
He arrived the same week the US announced it would suspend all "deliveries and activities" related to Turkey's procurement of F-35 jets because of Ankara's plans to purchase Russia’s S-400 surface-to-air missile system.
Turkey decided in 2017 to purchase the S-400 system following protracted efforts to purchase air defense systems from the US with no success.
Cavusoglu contended that Turkey urgently needs an air defense system because of the "threat in the neighborhood" and stressed NATO is not yet capable enough to cover the country's airspace.
Washington has repeatedly cautioned Turkey against the purchase of the S-400 system, warning it might be used to covertly obtain critical information on the F-35, including its detection range, which could then be relayed to Russia.
In responding to remarks that the S-400 missile system is incompatible with NATO military equipment, Cavusoglu said the system would be for Turkey's own use.
"It doesn’t have to be integrated to the NATO system, and this is not our aim. It is for our own use, this is a defense system," he added.
"This system will not see any NATO system, including F-35s," the Turkish foreign minister added, saying, "Therefore we propose United States establish a technical working group to make sure that this system will not be a threat to F-35s nor NATO systems."
Turkey's foreign minister stated that the plans to purchase the S-400 system is "a done deal" and Trump said he would take care of the F-35 deal.
"Trump himself admitted on the phone that US made the mistake not to sell Patriots to Turkey and he promised Erdogan that he will take care of this issue," Cavusoglu noted.
Turkey joined the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program in 2002 and has invested more than $1.25 billion. It also manufactures various aircraft parts for all F-35 variants and customers.
Turkish firms supply the F-35 program with key components, including airframe structures and assemblies and the center fuselages.
Ankara is planning to purchase 100 F-35 fighter jets from the United States.
Two F-35s already delivered to Turkey are currently at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where Turkish pilots are being trained. These jets were scheduled to be transferred to Turkey in November.
A Pentagon official told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday that Turkish pilots will continue to train with F-35 fighter jets in Arizona.
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan stated that he expects that they will be delivered.