Turkish FM wary of weapons assistance to Iraq falling into PKK hands

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu expressed concerns Sept. 8 that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) could receive international weapons. AFP Photo

Turkey’s new foreign minister expressed concerns Sept. 8 that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) could receive international weapons meant to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the international weapons assistance being provided to Kurdish peshmerga forces to boost them in their fight against ISIL militants should not end up in the hands of the PKK.

“The Iraqi army is an army based on sectarianism,” Çavuşoğlu told Anadolu Agency Sept. 8. “So this may make it difficult to control the weapons handed to them. This assistance should be provided by taking into account the restructuring of the Iraqi army. We have publically expressed our sensitivity about this issue.”

His remarks came a week after the co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, suggested that Turkey should provide weapons to the PKK. “It would be better that it’s Turkey who provides these weapons and not the U.S.,” Demirtaş said.

Çavuşoğlu also said 1,000 foreigners considered as “potential terrorists” had either been arrested or deported from Turkey to prevent them from crossing into conflict zones.

Çavuşoğlu took over from Ahmet Davutoğlu after the latter was named the country’s new prime minister.

Çavuşoğlu also said he expected U.S. President Barack Obama to unveil economic and political measures when he announces his strategy against ISIL on Sept. 10.

“We don’t think it will only be a military action. We expect a comprehensive announcement including economic development, stability and the formation of a unified and inclusive government,” he said.

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