Turkey’s foreign minister Hakan Fidan has told his US counterpart Antony Blinken in a phone call that Washington must stop working with terrorists of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and People’s Defence Units (YPG) in northern Syria, Turkish regime mouthpiece Daily Sabah reported on October 6, quoting unnamed Turkish diplomatic sources.
Sabah is part of the Turkuaz media group directed by Serhat Albayrak, the brother of Berat Albayrak, the older son-in-law of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The ownership is complicated. Erdogan seized the newspaper in 2007 via Turkey’s deposit insurance fund TMSF and acquired the title via Ahmet Calik, who was then Erdogan’s favourite affiliate in business operations. Erdogan and Calik subsequently fell out, with Calik moving to sell Turkuaz. Erdogan set up a financing pool with affiliated businessmen (a group dubbed by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu the “Gang of five”) to reacquire the publication.
Given the financing technique, media tools such as Sabah that are indirectly owned by Erdogan, and which make up more than half of Turkey’s media, are known as “the pool media” to Turks. During the week of December 17-25, 2013, the Gulenist camp in Turkey released leaked phone calls made among the ‘Gang of five’ as they arranged the financing pool.
Apologies to diligent Turkey watchers for serving up unnecessary reminders of some of the realities at hand, but for those not familiar with the media situation in Turkey, note that the pool media are not media institutions or dailies that are simply pro-Erdogan, they are essentially propaganda tools owned by Erdogan.
The source of the Fidan-Blinken story was Turkey’s government-run Anadolu Agency news service. Unnamed Turkish officials made statements to Anadolu about the phone call between Fidan and Blinken.
Turkey’s foreign ministry did not release an official statement on the call.
In the phone call, Fidan also underlined how Turkey intended to continue to resolutely pursue anti-terror operations in Iraq and Syria, according to the Sabah story.
Fidan and Blinken also discussed a deconfliction mechanism that would operate to avoid clashes between Turkish and US forces in Iraq and Syria within the framework of Turkey's ongoing operations in the region.
Following the downing of an armed Turkish drone in Syria on October 5 by a US F-16 fighter, they agreed that the mechanism must operate effectively while not hindering the fight against terrorism, the cited sources added.
The issue of Nato expansion was also discussed during the call. Turkey’s parliament on October 1 returned from its summer break. The clock is ticking on the Turkish ratification of Sweden’s accession to the defence bloc.
Blinken (@SecBlinken) also tweeted to stress that the matters of coordinating and deconflicting of activities were discussed.
The escalation of the series of events that led to the call began with the PKK’s terror attack in Ankara on October 1. It came with the Erdogan regime and the PKK already engaged in their latest fighting in northern Iraq.
As a response to the Ankara attack, Fidan warned the US soldiers stationed in the Syria region where the YPG is found that the Erdogan regime was set to hit the YPG. Subsequently, the US downed the drone.
With the phone call, the escalation between the US and Turkey was apparently replaced by coordination and deconfliction.
Despite this, tensions in the wider Middle East have been greatly exacerbated by the weekend’s bloody Hamas attacks in Israel. So far, the bloodshed has not much spread beyond that theatre.
The PKK has been designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and EU. The US and EU, meanwhile, support the YPG in Syria. The PKK and the YPG do not hide their affiliation under the leadership of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, long imprisoned in Turkey, while the official US line is that they are separate organisations.
The US partnered with the YPG in northeastern Syria to fight against Islamic State. It has provided military training and truckloads of military equipment to the group.
The Erdogan regime also supported the YPG during its attempt at pursuing a peace process with the PKK. It then changed its mind, declaring war against all Ocalan-led organisations under the umbrella organisation of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK). There are dozens of combinations of three letters that represent some of these organisations. They can all be called PKK.