While congratulating Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in his recent message on their success to wipe out ISIS from Raqqa, the US President Donald Trump also referred to the PKK terrorist organization (and PYD).
PKK is a recognized and declared terrorist group not only by Turkey but also the United States. It is internationally accepted that this organization aims to destroy unity and territorial integrity of the Turkish state. Human bloodshed, massacres, and violence done by this terrorist group as well as loss of welfare, insecurity and instability caused in the region due to its activities are well known. Turkey also formally declares PYD as an offshoot of PKK, hence a terrorist organization. The poster of the leader of PKK put up after the liberation of Raqqa from ISIS vindicates Turkish stance on this front.
Recall that the UN System stipulates members of the UN should respect other members’ territorial integrity and political independence, and refrain from undertaking and/or supporting any activities that could target member states’ unity and territorial integrity. Violation of such clause is seen as a ‘direct attack’ on the member state.
Given that both Turkey and the US are members of the UN, these principals also obligates the US.
Turkey and the US are also members of the NATO. And the essence of the NATO alliance stipulates solidarity between member states against possible threats. Moreover, the ‘Alliance’ has also established a common defense mechanism against existential threats. The aftermath of ‘9/11’ terrorist attack is a prime example for how this common defense mechanism would work in action. Recall that at the time, early-warning planes had been deployed to the US air space, and the NATO forces had undertaken a military intervention in Afghanistan, who had been associated with the terrorist attack. Such backdrop sets a substantive precedent for Turkey regarding NATO’s responsibility and capability in fight against terrorism.
Back then, having been wary of her responsibilities as a member of the UN and NATO, Turkey had stood by her ally against ‘terrorist attacks’ targeting the US.
Turkey is not just an ally to the US. At the same time, the two countries are friends as constituents of the free and independent World. And, such friendship also brings about additional bilateral responsibilities.
Thus, US President Donald Trump’s congratulatory message of SDF for liberation of Raqqa from ISIS and his reference to the terrorist PKK group (and PYD) does not comply with the principles above. It is not only against the UN System, NATO membership and bilateral friendship, but also an outright violation of all of them.
Notwithstanding all her current woes, Turkey is a long-established and strong country. Turkey’s current strains are all temporary.
It may cost dearly ‘in the future’ for the ones who disregard Turkey based on ‘current conjuncture’. History promises a great deal of potential for Turkey despite her ‘disregarded or overlooked’ power and extensive sphere of influence now. Soon, these days will be gone. And Turkey once again will become a formidable country whose friendship is sought after and animosity is avoided. I wholeheartedly believe in this. I hold the view that President Donald Trump is not cognizant of such strong belief prevalent in Turkish public sphere or he is yet to be briefed on this.
On the other hand, some recent incidents insinuate the US is experiencing a ‘downturn’ in her international relations. Protracted overlooking by President Donald Trump of Turkey would simply amplify this process. Due to this reason, I believe President Trump has ‘no luxury’ of despising Turkey and her capabilities.
In light of all these, I strongly condemn President Donald Trump on his reference to the terrorist group PKK (and PYD), and candidly call him to atone for his remarks.
Prof Osman Metin Ozturk
Ankara – October 24th, 2017