Qatar Again Defends Turkey Incursion in Syria
Qatar reiterated on Tuesday its support for Turkey’s incursion in Syria against Kurdish forces, saying it was aimed at eliminating an “imminent threat.”
"We can't put all the blame on Turkey," Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani said at a Global Security Forum meeting in Doha, adding that Ankara had been forced to respond to an "imminent threat for Turkish security".
Turkey wants to create a roughly 30-kilometer (20-mile) buffer zone along its border to keep Kurdish forces at bay and also to send back some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees on its soil.
"In the beginning (Turkey) said 'don't support these groups'," Abdulrahman said, referring to Kurdish elements such as the People's Protection Units (YPG) that helped a US-led coalition combat the ISIS group.
"Nobody listened. They have been trying to solve this issue now for more than a year with the United States, to create a safe zone to get the threat away from their border."
Ankara says the YPG is a "terrorist offshoot" of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
"The YPG and (its political arm the) PYD is from a branch of the PKK which is declared a terrorist organization in the US, EU, Turkey -- everywhere," said Abdulrahman.
"(Turkey) couldn't reach any solution with the US, they couldn't handle this threat until it became explosive for them."
"We don't see Turkey against the Kurds. Turkey is against a group of people within the Kurds," he said.
Qatar’s position is in stark contrast with Arab consensus that has condemned the operation as an “invasion” of Syria.
The Arab League convened an emergency meeting on Saturday to slam the operation. Qatar had expressed reservations over its final statement.
The United States unveiled sanctions on Monday against Ankara and the France, Germany and Italy announced that they would be suspending arms agreements with it over the incursion.