By Russ Read
Turkey’s Prime Minister lambasted the Obama administration Tuesday for not doing enough to destroy the Islamic State.
Turkey is the “only” member of Operation Inherent Resolve fully committing to the fight against the terrorist group, according to Binali Yildrim. He reprimanded the U.S. for failing to do the same, and criticized the Obama administration’s decision to arm Syrian Kurds, historical enemies of Turkey.
“The others are engaged in a fake struggle. America isn’t doing a damn thing, nor are the others,” said Yildrim in a parliamentary address.
Yildrim claimed that Turkey has “neutralized” 1,270 ISIS fighters since the launch of Operation Euphrates Shield, the Turkish-led operation started in August which aims to retake the Euphrates river region of Syria from ISIS.
The prime minister was particularly perturbed that Obama continues to arm the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, also known as the YPG. Turkey has been embroiled in a decades-long fight with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, known as the PKK. The group aims to create an independent Kurdish state in Turkey’s southeastern regions, and is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. While the PKK and YPG are technically distinct organizations, the Turkish government believes they are connected.
The Obama administration is currently considering arming the Syrian Defense Forces, a Kurdish-Arab coalition predominantly made up of YPG units.
ISIS claimed to have targeted the Reina nightclub on New Year’s eve in retaliation for Turkey’s operations in Syria. The perpetrator of shot dead 39 people and injured approximately 70 others. Turkish forces have yet to apprehend the man responsible.
Despite Turkey’s operations against ISIS, several reports in 2016 claimed Turkish officials, mostly from the intelligence service, actively aided ISIS fighters on their way to Syria. A captured ISIS member claimed in December that he personally witnessed members of the Turkish Intelligence Agency, known as the MIT, providing ISIS fighters with weapons. He also noted Turkish ambulances would often take wounded ISIS fighters from Syria into Turkey for treatment.