The White House lied, according to Turkish officials. Apparently, the White House’s version of Donald Trump’s latest phone call with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offended the country greatly. The U.S. relies heavily upon Turkey as an ally during the Mideastern wars.
Trump and Erdogan talked last Wednesday according to the Associated Press (AP). Afterward, the White House relayed that the U.S. president wanted Erdogan to limit his country’s assault on Kurdish troops. The Kurdish militia, Olive Branch, is located in northern Syria and fighting to maintain their portion of that country.
The Kurds have been fighting in tandem with the U.S. against the Islamic State (IS) with the goal of carving out a portion of Syria for their own country. Their women fighters are particularly fierce in this battle.
Meanwhile, Turkey is ever concerned that the Kurds will overstep and move into Turkey. The two groups have been in an informal war for decades. Ankara considers the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) a terror group with links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK is located inside Turkey and both Ankara and its Western supporters have blacklisted the group.
Yet, the YPG works closely with the U.S. government in their fight against the IS extremist group in Syria. Turkey has warned the U.S. against this alliance in the past. The U.S. has 2000 support troops and special forces in Syria at this time.
Turkey disagreed with Trump’s version of the phone call, saying it did not “accurately reflect” what the two men had discussed. According to the AP, the White House released a statement saying that Trump wanted Turkey:
To de-escalate, limit its military actions (and) exercise caution.’
However, official Turkish officials said that this statement:
‘Does not accurately reflect the content (and Trump did not mention) escalating violence.’
An unnamed Turkish official added:
‘The two leaders’ discussion… was limited to an exchange of views.’
Turkey attacked the YPG militia situated in Afrin Saturday with ground troops and air strikes in its support of the Syrian rebels.
Erdogan called Trump to urge him to stop sending weapons to the YPG. The Turkish official said:
‘His country no longer supplied the group… and pledged not to resume (weapons delivery). The US president touched upon the necessity of limiting the duration of Operation Olive Branch and, keeping in mind the presence of a small number of US troops in Manbij, the need to prevent a hot conflict in the area.’
The White House statement said that the president was worried about incidents of the Turkish people’s “the destructive and false” anti-American narrative.
Conversely, the Turkish official said:
‘(Trump) did not use the phrase “destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey.” He mentioned that open criticism of the United States raised concerns in Washington.’
The AP reported that the YPG holds several important towns:
‘The YPG holds the key town of Manbij east of Afrin and Erdogan on Wednesday raised the prospect of an operation on Manbij, where there is a US military presence.’
Featured Image via Getty Images/Drew Angerer.