A member of the Raqqa Civil Council's security forces inspects motorcycle riders at a checkpoint in the former ISIS stronghold on October 16, 2018. File photo: Delil Souleiman | AFp
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — In a direct rebuke to US President Donald Trump's tweets calling for Syrian Kurds and Turkey to get along, Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin called equating Syrian Kurds with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) a "fatal mistake."
"Mr @realDonaldTrump It is a fatal mistake to equate Syrian Kurds with the PKK, which is on the US terrorists list, and its Syria branch PYD/YPG," he tweeted early Monday.
Kalin picked up on the lack of nuance in Trump's pair of tweets on Sunday when he said the United States "will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds."
"Turkey fights against terrorists, not Kurds. We will protect Kurds and other Syrians against all terrorist threats," added Kalin.
Kalin reiterated Ankara's stance that "there is no difference" between the People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, their political arm the Democratic Union Party, ISIS, and the PKK.
And to that end, Washington is being duplicitous because Ankara considers the YPG to be the Syrian extension of the PKK, argued Kalin.
The YPG, although ideologically inspired by PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan, denies any organic or command structure links to the PKK which is based in the Qandil Mountains of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. It recently also asked Ankara to provide proof of the link.
"Terrorists can’t be your partners & allies. Turkey expects the US to honor our strategic partnership and doesn’t want it to be shadowed by terrorist propaganda," wrote Kalin.
Kalin did not fire back at Trump's "20 mile safe zone" that followed economic devastation to Turkey — an apparent effort to isolate the already fledgling economy.
The diplomatic spat comes as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on a Middle East tour. Noticeably absent from his itinerary is a stop in Turkey.
Last week, Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton reportedly was snubbed a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Analysts have faulted Trump's snap Twitter diplomacy for hamstringing the efforts of Bolton, Pompeo, and Ambassador James Jeffrey — the president's special envoy to the international anti-ISIS coalition and the State Department's envoy for Syria engagement.