By Ahmet Salih Alacaci and Ali Murat Alhas
Turkey’s president said Friday the Trump administration did not appear to portray a united stance on its withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria
In a televised interview, Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised a recent trilateral summit held in the Russian resort city of Sochi with the leaders of Russia and Iran, saying it was “very productive and useful”.
He said the next such summit on the Syrian conflict would be held in Turkey.
In addition, Erdogan reiterated the need for Washington to make good on its promise to evacuate the YPG/PYD/PKK terror group from northern Syria’s Manbij district west of the Euphrates River, stressing there has not yet been a step in this direction.
“Manbij is actually not the place of these terror organizations,” he said, adding the population there was 85-90 percent Arab.
“We will do whatever it takes for our national security,” he asserted, noting Ankara would continue to strive for finding mutual ground as long as Tehran and Moscow maintained their attitude.
In December, President Donald Trump made a surprise announcement that the U.S. would be withdrawing all of its troops from Syria and said Daesh had been defeated in the country
Since then, however, no troops have been withdrawn, and the Pentagon confirmed last month that additional troops were being sent to protect American forces and equipment as they prepare to leave.
Syrian refugees in Turkey
Underlining Turkey’s efforts to resettle the 3.6 million Syrian refugees residing within the country’s borders, Erdogan said 310,000 Syrians had returned home and pointed out that $35 billion had been spent on the needs of refugees.
He complained that the European Union didn’t fully keep its promise to support refugees in Turkey, saying it had promised a total of $6 billion.
“What we have received is $1.75 billion. All talk, no action,” he said.
On the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Erdogan emphasized that the CIA had not yet ‘thrown its weight’ behind the issue, adding that Washington should press for an investigation.
Erdogan emphasized that Turkey had not yet revealed all the documents it possessed on Khashoggi’s death and Ankara was ‘determined’ to bring the issue before international courts.
Khashoggi was brutally murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul shortly after he entered the diplomatic facility on Oct. 2 last year. Riyadh initially denied any role in the killing but has since sought to blame his death on a botched rendition operation being carried out by rogue agents.
Macron and so-called Armenian genocide
Erdogan said French President Emmanuel Macron should learn some history before lecturing others about genocides.
“There is no such thing as genocide in our history,” he said, adding Macron should be careful before uttering such strong words.
Erdogan said France had been involved in numerous bloody massacres committed over the course of history.
“Between 1872-1954, Vietnam. More than 500,000 Vietnamese were slaughtered by the French,” he said.
He went on to say that France massacred scores of people in the revolts against its colonial presence in Algeria.
Turkey and EU
On Turkey’s ascension to the European Union, Erdogan accused European countries of not being sincere with all the requisites and said they had another agenda.
“There is only one reason they don’t take us [into the EU]: because we are Muslims,” he said, noting that even some former EU foreign ministers had said that.
In addition, Erdogan said some European countries were actually supporting terrorism against Turkey.
Erdogan slammed Washington for arming the YPG/PKK terror group, saying it had sent 23,000 trucks loaded with weapons to terrorists.
Recalling the U.S. promise to collect weapons back from the terror groups, he said the same words were once said by former president George W. Bush.
“When the U.S. entered Iraq, Bush said they would collect the weapons while withdrawing,” he said. “But while fighting the terror groups there, we realized that the U.S. weapons were there.”