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Turkey renames embassy street to protest US support for Kurdish PYD

A municipal worker changes a sign to rename a street, Zeytindali (Olive branch) after Turkey's operation against a Kurdish militia in Syria, outside the US embassy in Ankara on February 19, 2018 sparking concern in Washington. The renaming of the street in the centre of Ankara as "Olive Branch Avenue" is the latest example of the testy relations between the two NATO allies who have bickered fiercely during the last months over a string of issues, including Syria. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

The Ankara Metropolitan Municipality on Monday changed the name of the street on which the US Embassy is located to “Olive Branch,” the name of Turkey’s ongoing operation in northern Syria, in protest of US support for a Kurdish militia group in the country.

“We have signed the necessary proposal to change the name of the Nevzat Tandogan Avenue in front of the U.S. Embassy to ‘Olive Branch.’ May it go well, may the souls of our saintly martyrs rejoice,” Ankara Mayor Mustafa Tuna had tweeted last week.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu last Monday had warned Washington that Turkish relations with the US were close to breaking.
“Ties with the US are at a very critical point. We will either fix these relations, or they will break completely,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters on the sidelines of a Turkish-African meeting in Istanbul.

“We want concrete steps [from the US]. The missing trust needs to be restored. The reason for that missing trust is the US,” he said, criticizing the US for supporting the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also on Monday strongly criticized the US over relations with the Kurdish militant group in Syria, saying Washington better pull itself together.

“The US, our ally in NATO who we thought of as a strategic partner for a long time, better pull itself together and make a real decision,” Yıldırım said during a joint press conference with his Macedonian counterpart, Zoran Zaev, in Ankara.

The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch in the Afrin region of Syria against the PYD, which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The street on which the United Arab Emirates Embassy is located in Ankara was changed in January to reflect Turkey’s Ottoman heritage in the Middle East, including its defense of Muslim holy sites, in the wake of a diplomatic spat between Turkey and the UAE.

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