As Erdogan Visits Trump, Much Friction Between US And Turkey

Posted May 20, 2017

"If we are strategic allies, then we should make decisions in alliance", the Sabah newspaper cited Erdogan as telling reporters on Sunday during a trip to China.

Trump is to welcome President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on an official visit to the US on May 16. The U.S., whose forces are sometimes embedded with the Kurds, has much to fear.

Turkey had hoped that Trump's inauguration would mark a new chapter in ties with Washington after long-running tensions with the Obama administration over Syria policy and Ankara's demands for the extradition of USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

In a similar way, the USA disappoints Turkish expectations in not responding positively to Turkey's request for the extradition of Sufi Muslim religious leader Fethullah Gulen, who they assert directed the coup attempt from his self-imposed exile in Saylorsburg, PA.

The pair will sit down at the White House on Tuesday to discuss how to "deepen our cooperation to confront terrorism in all its forms", according to a Trump administration statement announcing the event. "Now, we are in a crisis period". First, enhanced and increased USA assistance against the PKK, without any public expressions of concern about the tactics the Turkish military uses in civilian areas of southeastern Turkey. "However, the highest level of discussions will be held between President Trump and me". He also said that once it starts it will not be publicly acknowledged by the U.S.

It's a delicate balancing act for Washington to maintain relationships with both the Turks and the Kurds in Iraq and Syria. News reports said Washington could provide Turkey with better intelligence sharing to boost Ankara's fight against the PKK.

His prime minister, Binali Yildirim, said that Washington's stance "will surely have consequences and will yield a negative result for the U.S.as well".

Although Turkey is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and a key partner in the fight against Islamic State, an Oval Office encounter between a pair of headstrong leaders could nonetheless be an awkward one. They are not happy with the present situation either.

"Oftentimes, it can be untidy", Mattis said of keeping allies focused on that goal. Washington, meanwhile, has suggested it will attempt to assuage Turkey's concerns by supporting Turkish security. The Islamic State-linked Aamaq news agency said the attack killed nine troops and left a Russian T-72 tank destroyed. Turkey has repeatedly demanded his extradition, which the Obama administration refused.

Turkey considers a Turkish Kurdish group, known as the PKK, a terrorist group because of its ties to the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party inside Turkey. Despite Turkey's claims that "the war on terror" should include the fight against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the YPG, none of the global actors recognize the YPG as a terrorist organization.

Turkish officials repeatedly spoke of a "new page" in relations after the bickering under Obama but the Trump administration's announcement that the USA would arm the Syrian Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) cast a heavy shadow over such optimism. Erdogan saw this as a refusal to cooperate against a criminal terrorist, helping to sour further the already hard relationship between his government and the Obama administration. Flynn, Kahl noted, was later found to be a paid consultant to pro-government Turkish interests.

But analysts say that Erdogan faces a major struggle to convince Trump to change tack, raising the prospect of long-term tensions between the United States and NATO's main Muslim member. At the moment, however, annihilating Islamic State is the overriding priority in the Syrian civil war-reason enough to make arming the Kurds official USA policy.

And when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits the White House this week, the most he and President Donald Trump may be able to do is agree to disagree, and move on.

US-backed fighters said Friday they were preparing for a final assault on the Islamic State group s Syrian bastion Raqa, likely next month, with new weapons and armoured vehicles promised by Washington. The YPG is the main component of the SDF.