Senator Lindsey Graham has reversed his position on the Turkish operation against the US-backed YPG terror group, after initially maintaining that arming them was a "dumb idea" in the first place.

Senetor Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks during a press conference at the US Capitol, December 20, 2018
Senetor Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks during a press conference at the US Capitol, December 20, 2018 (Win McNamee / Getty Images)

With the onset of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring into northern Syria on Wednesday, US Senator Lindsey Graham has completely reversed his previous rhetoric supporting Turkey’s fight against the terrorism in Northern Syria.  

He has since proposed legislation that would impose sanctions on Turkey over its most recent push to secure its southern borders from endemic terrorism and create a safe-zone for the repatriation of Syrian refugees.

In his sudden reversal, Graham warned that the operation would be a "disaster" and a "stain on America’s honour". 

However, in a key conversation that recently came to light Graham was subject to a hoax call from Russian pranksters in August, believing that he was speaking to Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar. What he said in the conversation, goes entirely against the public line he has recently maintained after the operation began.

Acknowledged threat

In the phone call reported by the Politico website, Graham described the PKK as a “threat” to Turkey, seemingly contradicting his recent public stance against the Turkish operation.

In his conversation with the Russian pranksters, Graham admitted, “Your YPG Kurdish problem is a big problem.” 

President Trump himself has acknowledged the Turkish operation’s mandate, stating: 

“As you know, it was started by President Obama; he created a natural war with Turkey and their long-time enemy, PKK. And they’re still there.” 

A spokesman for Senator Graham had confirmed the authenticity of the phone call to Politico.

Following the US announcement that it would withdraw its troops from Syria just hours before the beginning of the Turkish military operation, Graham warned of sanctions "against Turkey if they invade Syria and will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces [YPG/PKK] who assisted the US in the destruction of the ISIS [Daesh] Caliphate."

Even as Senator Graham emphasises his close ties to President Trump, his most recent stance contradicts a CNN report that Turkish President Erdogan and US President Trump had “reached an understanding over precisely what this operation is” before the US withdrawal announcement.

In a House Armed Services Committee, Graham hit back at Defense Secretary Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford for arming the YPG, stating that the Kurdish fighters were "not interested in putting pressure on Assad," and that they were unable to bring the fight to Assad.

More recently, he also admitted that arming the YPG was a mistake.

In an interview with TRT World’s Imran Garda, Graham confessed that the “YPG element is integrated with the PKK in my view, and I’ve said this before, just read their manifesto.” 

When questioned as to whether he supported Turkey’s right to defend it’s border, Graham responded, “Absolutely. I said this in 2016. In the eyes of Turkey, what the United States has done is armed a terrorist organisation.”

“What I’m telling Turkey is I’m sorry we created this problem. I said it a long time. It was a dumb idea then. It proved to be a dumb idea.”

The YPG/PKK terror organisation received support from the US to defeat Daesh in 2015, but is considered a terror group by Turkey because of its self-described manifesto seeking to establish an autonomous Marxist-Anarchist state on Turkish-Syrian territory.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the European Union – and has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. 

Source: TRT World