ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT</p> <p>By Ahmet Salih Alacaci </p> <p>ANKARA (AA) - By arming the YPG group in Syria, Washington “created a nightmare for Turkey,” said a senior U.S. senator during a visit to the Turkish capital on Saturday. </p> <p>Underlining that the YPG/PYD is “clearly” tied to the PKK -- listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S., and the European Union -- Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters that the U.S. strategy in Syria has the potential to cause harm to Turkey. </p> <p>The South Carolina senator stressed the importance of protecting Turkey and solving the problem the U.S. “created” for Ankara, referring to U.S. support for the terrorist YPG/PYD in the name of fighting Daesh terrorists. </p> <p>He highlighted that the planned U.S. pullout from Syria must work to rectify past mistakes and that a withdrawal failing to destroy the Daesh terror group, contain Iran, and protect Turkey would only result in a broader conflict and “chaos.”
U.S. President Donald Trump's surprise pullout announcement last month followed a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which the two agreed on the need for more effective coordination over the civil war-torn country.
“President Trump should be very cautious in how he withdraws and not dump this problem on Turkey’s lap,” said Graham, adding that it would be “insane” for Turkey to have to fight elements armed by the U.S. in Syria.
Citing the threat to Turkey as well as Syria's territorial integrity, Turkey has said it will soon launch a counter-terrorist operation against the YPG/PYD in Syria, east of the Euphrates River, near the Turkish border.
– Syria, Khashoggi
Graham also praised Turkey for taking in 4 million refugees from the Syria war, thanking Turks for their “generosity, care” and efforts to provide Syrian children with an education.
He also thanked Ankara for working to clear up the “gruesome murder” last October of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.
On the alleged role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Khashoggi killing, he said Washington has to deal with “bad people,” adding that U.S.-Saudi relations cannot move forward until bin Salman had been “dealt with.”
The senator said he hoped that NATO ally Ankara, a “very important strategic partner,” and Washington could “start a new relationship” and begin to integrate their economies through a free trade agreement, calling the relationship between President Erdogan and Trump “unique and special.”
Graham, a member of Congress since 1995 and a senator since 2003, serves on the Senate's Armed Services Committee. As a member of the U.S. Air Force in the 1980s, he was stationed at the NATO base in Incirlik, Turkey, Graham told reporters.
Turkey has long objected to the U.S. giving support and weapons to the YPG/PYD, arguing that using one terrorist group to fight another makes no sense.
<p>There has been friction between Ankara and Washington over the upcoming Turkish counter-terrorist operation against the YPG/PYD amid the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria. </p> <p>In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people. The YPG/PYD is the group's Syrian branch. </p> <p>