Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long considered the Kurdish PYD to be a terrorist group, one that threatens the stability of his administration. As a member of NATO, Ankara expects its allies to agree.
But on Monday, US State Department spokesman John Kirby indicated that Washington and Ankara may not see eye-to-eye on the subject.
“We do not recognize the PYD as a terrorist organization. We recognize Turks do,” Kirby told reporters, while maintaining that the US and Turkey are “good friends.”
In response to Kirby’s comments, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned US Ambassador to Turkey John Bass. According to an official, speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, the conversation was meant to “convey unease” from Ankara about Washington’s position.
© AFP 2016/ Delil Souleiman
Female fighters from the Kurdish People Protection Unit (YPG) take a break on the front line in the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakeh on September 4, 2015.
On Tuesday, Kirby confirmed that the meeting between the ambassador and Turkish official did take place. Kirby also confirmed that the United States has not changed its views on the PYD.
The incident comes amid Turkey’s repeated attempts to keep Kurdish groups out of the Syrian peace talks. Both the United States and Russia have called the PYD one of the most effective ground forces fighting Daesh, also known as IS/Islamic State, in Syria.
© AFP 2016/ FABRICE COFFRINI
“We mean Kurds, of course, without whom there is no point to hope for any progress or decisions being made. We believe that the Kurds must participate,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told RIA Novosti last month, stressing Moscow’s stance on the PYD’s involvement in Syrian peace talks.
Turkey has repeatedly rebuffed attempts to include the PYD, deliberately stalling the Syrian peace talks.
“Turkey will be supporting any initiative for a political solution in Syria, except the only criteria we want is that the moderate opposition should be represented by their own will and initiative,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said during the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“There should not be any representation of terrorist groups around the table.”