Turkey’s Erdoğan deems U.S. military presence in Syria as ‘national security threat’

President Erdoğan said that the American military activities in Syria are "an extraordinary threat to Turkey's national security,” following the escalation of tension with the U.S. after the drone shot-down incident. Erdoğan's remarks came after U.S. president Biden had deemed Turkey as “a national security threat” due to its military activities in Syria.

Duvar English

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Oct. 13 said that United States (U.S.) military activities in northern Syria pose a national security threat to Turkey, in his speech at the closing ceremony of the 4th Turkey-Africa Business and Economic Forum in Istanbul.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Oct. 12 stated that Turkey's activities in the region "pose an unusual and extraordinary threat" to US national security in his decision to extend "the national emergency with respect to the situation in and in relation to Syria."

After the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) claimed responsibility for the bomb attack near the state buildings in the capital Ankara, Turkey launched extensive military operations in northern Syria where Kurdish militants based with American military personnel. 

“The activities carried out by the U.S. in Syria with the PKK's extensions in this country constitute an extraordinary threat to Turkey's national security,” Erdoğan said.

The People's Defense Units (YPG) militia which Turkey regards as a terrorist organization affiliated with the PKK, spearheads the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria.

The United States and European Union deem the PKK a terrorist organization, but not the YPG. 

Erdoğan added, “We look at the game being played against us with a bitter smile. We will leave those who play this game alone with their own scenarios and continue to take the steps required for our national security.” 

Contrary to previous statements by Turkish officials, Erdoğan lambasted the U.S. for shooting down of Turkey’s armed drone during latter’s ongoing operations in Syria.

The U.S. stated that Turkish drone was operating near its troops in Syria and it acted according to security protocols. 

“Are we not together with the U.S. in The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)? Did America shoot down our drone, it did. If we are partners in NATO, how can you do such a thing?"

It was the first time Washington has brought down an aircraft of NATO ally Turkey. 

Erdoğan had also said, "There is no doubt that the incident has been engraved in our national memory and necessary action will certainly be taken when the time comes," after a cabinet meeting.

After Turkey initiated Operation Peace Spring against Kurdish forces in northeast Syria in October 2019, former US President Donald Trump declared a national emergency and issued an executive order authorizing sanctions against Turkish officials.

Biden on Oct. 12 extended the order for another year.

“The situation in and in relation to Syria, and in particular the actions by the Government of Turkey to conduct a military offensive into northeast Syria, undermines the campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, endangers civilians, and further threatens to undermine the peace, security, and stability in the region, and continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” read the statement from Biden.