Trump must stand up to Turkey's leader

Kristopher Drake
May 17, 2017

Turkish President Erdogan set to meet with US President TrumpTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is heading to Washington at the invitation of U.S. President Donald Trump. President Trump has made clear that his primary response to their suffering is to try to ban even the most vulnerable from being resettled here and to propose major cuts to US -funded programs that support their most basic needs.

Erdogan's visit comes after he won a historic referendum last month which gave him more executive powers as the President.

CORNISH: What are you going to be looking for out of this meeting that will signal the direction that the U.S. -Turkey relationship is going in?

Trump, meanwhile, may be distracted by the ongoing controversy over intelligence leaks and the alleged ties between his campaign and Russian Federation, and not seek to put Erdogan on the spot over his government's often strident anti-American rhetoric or his clampdown on opposition media and purge of alleged Gulenists in government jobs. USA and Jordanian officials said the call was previously scheduled.

Trump highlighted his support for Turkey in the fight against terror and terror groups, including ISIS and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) - considered a terrorist group by the U.S., Turkey and Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Moscow sees no need to arm Kurdish fighters in Syria.

In return, Trump will have to give Erdogan assurances that Gulen will be closely monitored while the USA courts examine a Turkish extradition request and that - once the Islamic State has been driven out of the Iraqi city of Mosul - Washington will endorse a Turkish offensive against PKK bases in Sinjar, northern Iraq.

One of the major irritants in US-Turkey relations is Washington's decision to arm YPG, a group linked to the PKK, in Syria in its fight against Daesh.

Trump and Erdogan may find common ground as leaders with little interest in oversight or checks on power. The decision to arm the YPG drove Ankara ballistic. While many countries looked at it as a step towards authoritarianism, President Trump congratulated Erdogan.

"These are contrary developments to our relations and strategic agreement with the U.S. We do not want those issues, [.] we will discuss them", Erdogan said.

"Human rights and democracy are not part of Trump's agenda, but we hope that he abandons this stance", Tanrikulu said.

Erdogan is also likely to bring up with Trump the status of Fethullah Gulen, the exiled cleric living in the United States whom the Turkish president blames for a failed coup attempt previous year.

Trump has gone out of his way to foster a good relationship with Erdogan.

The YPG is the name of the Kurdish militia in Syria.

Given Rudy Giuliani's ties to the Turkish government, U.S. District Judge Berman has questioned whether the former New York City mayor's involvement in the case would make Reza Zarrab less likely to pursue a plea that could have political fallout for Turkey's autocratic leader.

On the other hand, the USA needs the Syrian Kurds in the war against ISIS.

Still, some in the Turkish government remain optimistic about how Mr Trump will deal with Ankara.

Turkey's closest friend in the Trump administration, Gen Flynn was sacked from his national security adviser post within weeks for misleading vice president Mike Pence over his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the US.

During his White House visit, Erdogan had planned to lobby Trump to drop his administration's support of the YPG, and instead back Turkey's favored Syrian rebels to capture Raqqa. Before being ousted over exposure of his ties to Russia, Flynn was a campaign surrogate for Trump previous year when he participated in a meeting on an extrajudicial rendition of Gulen that, according to a Wall Street Journal report, would amount to an end run on the formal extradition process.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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