Trump to Sit Down With Turkish President Erdogan Amid Heightened Tensions

17 May, 2017, 01:40 | Author: Malcolm Fuller

Delivering a statement alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Donald Trump said the USA would re-establish its military and economic partnership with Turkey.

Flynn was forced out as National Security Agency director after less than a month on the job, after President Trump said he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Flynn also had worked for Russian companies, including some closely linked to the Russian government. They also condemned his recent referendum win to change the constitution, which could essentially see him leading the country until as late as 2029.

Prior to that power grab condemned by democratic leaders worldwide (except Trump), Erdogan lay the foundation for it by detaining approximately 40,000 people he perceived as political dissidents, firing nearly 90,000 civil servants, closing down hundreds of independent media outlets and non-governmental organizations, and arresting an unknown number of journalists, activists, and even members of parliament.

And US and SDF officials say post-IS Raqa will be administered by a civilian council of local residents. The Turkish government considers the YPG Kurdish militia in Syria that the USA plans to arm to be a terrorist group.

The White House meeting comes amid intense and complex worldwide diplomacy over the war in Syria, where Turkey and the United States both support forces in opposition to President Bashar al-Assad's government.

The Pentagon sees the YPG as a key part of plans to recapture Raqqah, the militants' self-declared capital in Syria.

More than a year ago, during his testimony before a Senate panel at the U.S. Congress, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter was asked if the PYD was allied with or had substantial ties to the PKK - designated by the U.S., Europe, and Turkey as a terrorist group - he answered "Yes".

Trump and Erdogan could hash out an agreement where Turkey "trades" Raqqa to the United States and its Syrian Kurdish allies, in exchange for a USA green light for a Turkish attack on the Sinjar region, a PKK stronghold in northern Iraq. Weeks later, Mr Trump is still beaming about the meeting and how great Mr Xi is.

Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and has designated both groups as terrorists. The new arms will help the rebels withstand intense urban and guerrilla warfare they expect to encounter from several thousand Islamic State fighters holed up in Raqqa.

According to Anadolu news agency, Erdogan will meet Trump at the White House on Tuesday for a bilateral Oval Office meeting followed by a press conference.

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In this photo taken Sunday, May 14, 2017, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the Belt and Road Forum at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, China.

The US has mostly tried to keep Turkey placated with assurances that the YPG won't use US arms against them, but at this point the US has to have troops along the border just to keep Turkey from attacking YPG territory, and it's hard to magine that, when Turkey finally does come over that border after the Kurds, they're going to consider US arms off limits.

Erdogan's government is also demanding that the US government extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric and political refugee who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since the 1990s.

Trump has been keen to maintain a good relationship with Erdogan.

As Sen. John McCain said earlier this year, if Turkish-Kurdish tensions get out of hand, the result will be a "train wreck" in Syria.

A senior Turkish government official said, however, that Trump not focusing on human rights in Turkey was "not an issue for us".

The controversial Turkish cleric is seen by his followers as an enlightened leader and by the ruling party in Turkey as a unsafe enemy and traitor.

"Washington, on the other hand, has made it amply clear that Turkey's demands are unlikely to be met because the US has firm positions, or obstacles it can't overcome, that make it very hard to please Ankara", Idiz said.

Yet Ankara is moving cautiously, also speaking with Russia, Assad's main backer, about possible joint operations in the war-torn country.

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