Anti-ISIL coalition needs unity of purpose: Turkish FM

KUWAIT CITY

Anti-ISIL coalition needs unity of purpose: Turkish FM

To combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the coalition needs common action and a unity of purpose, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Feb. 13 during a meeting of the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition.


According to a diplomatic source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on talking to the media, Çavuşoğlu gave a speech at a closed-door ministerial meeting of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIL in Kuwait.


In his speech, Çavuşoğlu said unilateral steps such as a planned U.S. border security force are contrary to the spirit of the coalition.


The U.S. said last month it was creating a 30,000-strong border security force in northern Syria, along Turkey’s border, with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group manned mostly by People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants.


While the U.S. has called the SDF a “reliable ally” against ISIL, Ankara has strongly protested saying it is the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).


The Pentagon later tried to address Turkey’s backlash to the border plan, but its budget proposal submitted this week seeks $250 million for what appears to be the same plan, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.


Çavuşoğlu stressed that Turkey contributed to the fight against ISIL with its Operation Euphrates Shield and the current “Operation Olive Branch,” adding that Turkey does not expect gratitude but understanding of its legitimate security concerns instead of unfounded criticisms.


He reiterated Turkey’s expectations from the international community in its fight against ISIL and the YPG, both targets of Turkey’s current “Operation Olive Branch” across the Turkish border in Afrin, Syria.


Çavuşoğlu said that it is not only the YPG which is fighting the Turkish Armed Forces during the operation, but also ISIL.


Turkey says it is carrying out “Operation Olive Branch” - launched on Jan. 20 - to remove YPG and ISIL militants from Afrin.


Çavuşoğlu claimed that after its defeats in the field, ISIL changed its tactics by cooperating with the YPG, citing Afrin as an example, where Turkish officials say the YPG has freed ISIL prisoners to fight at its side.


The ministerial meeting for the coalition against ISIL began on Feb. 13 in Kuwait.


The meeting comes as defense ministers of the coalition member states meet in Rome to discuss joint cooperation against ISIL foreign fighters.


The anti-ISIL coalition was formed on Sept. 11, 2014 by 74 countries to fight the group.


Çavuşoğlu, anti-ISIL, unity