Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim talked about Syria and the Raqqa operation to journalists accompanying him on his visit to Germany.
To a question on what Turkey’s response would be if the US entered Raqqa with the People’s Protection Units (YPG), Yildirim replied, “We hope that they don’t decide on something like that. If they do, there will be serious problems in our relationship with the USA.”
The prime minister told the journalists that he had briefed German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the progress of the Euphrates Shield operation, saying, “as you know we have a proposal on the table to liberate Raqqa from Daesh [using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group]. I told the Chancellor that it’s not right for America to move with the PKK’s offshoot, the YPG, and that you can’t use one terrorist organisation to fight against another. There is no room for this in our friendship. I told Merkel that Germany could also take part in the [Raqqa] operation.”
Turkey made a concrete proposal to CIA Director Mike Pompeo – who visited Turkey last week – on how it would conduct the Raqqa operation, how many soldiers it could push and how many Free Syrian Army fighters it could send, to which Pompeo had responded, “If you really have this alternative, we will seriously consider it”.
Speaking to Turkish online news site, Arti Gercek, Henri Barkey said on Saturday that, “nobody believes Turkey could take Raqqa”, adding, “Turkey is saying that ‘we’ll do it, we’ll take it’ but as far as I can see there is no one in America that believes they actually can”.
The Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars also said about Turkey-US relations that, “Turkey’s relations with Trump’s America is a complete unknown. On the one hand he is praising Erdogan, and on the other he is expressing his admiration for the Kurds.”
In his verdict on who the Raqqa operation will be conducted with, Barkey said, “Raqqa is very important for Trump, because Obama couldn’t take it. The Raqqa operation is a complex operation. It would be a mistake to think Raqqa will fall easily. But this is still an opportunity for Trump. Trump will be able to say that he liberated Raqqa and that Obama was unable to do so. He is always comparing himself to Obama. This is why Raqqa is important for Trump and this is why I believe the agreement and alliance with the YPG will continue, because there is no other force other than the YPG that could take it from the Islamic State.”