Erdogan slams pro-Kurd McGurk as supporter of 'terrorists'

Erdogan says US diplomat McGurk 'walking with terrorists' over support for Kurds
2 min read
01 October, 2021
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly said that he was 'deeply disturbed' by veteran diplomat McGurk's support for Kurdish-led armed groups in Syria.
Erdogan has pinpointed Brett McGurk for criticism before [Getty]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned Brett McGurk, a Middle East security advisor for the Biden administration, for his support of Kurdish-led militias in northeast Syria.

The Turkish state's Anadolu Agency reported Erdogan as saying on Thursday that he was "deeply disturbed" by the veteran diplomat "walking arm in arm with terrorist organisations" in Syria.

As US envoy to the anti-Islamic State (IS) Global Coalition from 2015, McGurk was instrumental in US support for the Kurdish-led militias as they fought IS, which tore through Syria and neighbouring Iraq the year before.

Among the main armed local groups that have fought IS was the People's Protection Units (YPG). Turkey claims the YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a separatist group that has fought the Turkish state since the 1980s. 

The PKK and the YPG say they are distinct from one another, but share an ideology. Like Turkey, the US has listed the PKK as a terrorist organisation.

Analysis
Live Story

Erdogan also said on Thursday that the US should leave Syria, AA reported.

Turkey's significant presence in Syria grew considerably when it seized control of parts of Syria northeast that were under the control of Kurdish-led forces, a few days after Trump withdrew some US troops from northeast Syria with little warning.

Syrian Kurdish commanders have warned that a further US pullback from would make them vulnerable to both further Turkish offensives and a resurgence of IS, who are still active in parts of Syria's east.

Syrian Kurdish commander Mazloum Abdi recently said that the US had reassured him that northeast Syria was not at risk of a US withdrawal.

Erdogan has targeted McGurk before, calling for him to be removed from the from his anti-IS coalition envoy role in 2017.