Trump to mend ties with Erdogan at White House meet

Aaron Brown
May 17, 2017

62 Members of Congress have sent a letter pressing U.S. President Trump to prioritize democracy and human rights during Tuesday's White House meeting with Turkish President Erdogan, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) reports.

Trump said Tuesday that the USA would ensure the PKK has "no safe quarter".

Constitutional amendments narrowly approved in the referendum switched the once mostly ceremonial post Erdogan holds into the center of power in the Turkish government.

Given Giuliani's ties to the Turkish government, U.S. District Judge Berman has questioned whether his work with Zarrab would make the defendant less likely to pursue such options.

But the SDF's ranks, which estimates place at anywhere between 25,000 and 45,000 fighters, remain dominated by the YPG, which also retains control of the alliance's command, analysts say. And he said that the YPG's involvement in the fight against ISIS "will never be accepted and it's going to be against the global agreement we have reached".

Ankara regards the YPG as simply the Syrian arm of the "terrorist" PKK, which has waged a deadly insurgency inside Turkey since 1984, and Erdogan is anxious the war against the IS group will leave his deadly enemy in charge of a US-armed statelet on his southern frontier.

Both Turkey and the United States have backed rebels in Syria during the six-year war against President Bashar al-Assad's forces and allies. Despite this fact, these Kurdish fighters as well as the pro-Iranian Shia ones are not dealt with as "foreign terrorist fighters", in sharp contrast with what the US and the global community have so far advocated when it comes to countering foreign terrorists in Syria. And it raises a crucial question: Is Turkey willing to seriously disrupt the US -led war against Islamic State to undermine Washington's support for the Kurds?

Erdogan is in Washington to try to convince the US President to reverse the decision to arm the Kurdish fighters and to brief Trump on a proposed peace plan for Syria that Ankara has reached with Russian Federation and Iran, and involves the creation of four de-escalation zones within the country. Erdogan accused the Trump administration on Wednesday of siding with terrorists.

Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and has designated both groups as terrorists.

That meeting brought Trump and his senior foreign policy and national security aides into the Oval Office with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

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"Erdogan will be shooting himself in the foot if he does either because it would just push the US into the arms of the Syrian Kurds", Rubin told the Washington Free Beacon on Monday.

Erdogan hopes to change Trump's mind about arming the Kurdish group, he has said, but the president's advisors say he is unlikely to budge.

We should expect no substantial discussion of the 150 journalists detained in Turkey on misleading or bogus charges, or the elected politicians from peaceful pro-Kurdish parties who remain behind bars.

Trump's approach until now has been to ignore or even endorse Erdogan's autocratic abuses.

Giuliani had been a surrogate for Trump on the campaign trail, and his new employer, the law firm Greenberg Traurig, is registered as an agent for the Turkish government. And by supplying heavy weapons to the YPG, which will remain in their hands after the Raqqa operation is over, Washington has raised the likelihood of a Kurdish state in northern Syria after the war.

Trump and Erdogan each gave remarks before they went into a private lunch, but details about their discussions were not immediately available.During a almost 10-minute speech standing beside Trump in the Roosevelt Room, Erdogan did not mention schools, but he did bring up Gulen, who he is trying to extradite for allegedly orchestrating a failed coup attempt last July.

Trump made news last month by phoning Erdogan to congratulate him on a referendum in Turkey that furthered Erdogan's power.

Zarrab's prosecution had been brought by Preet Bharara, the former USA attorney for the Southern District of NY, who was sacked in March along with other US attorneys named under President Barrack Obama.

STEIN: Well, I think the White House is trying to pull out all the stops so that President Erdogan feels welcomed and that he's actually an ally of the United States.

CORNISH: The thing we should also note is that the kind of global attention on Erdogan and how he has been operating in the country has shifted (laughter) - a little less celebrated. Before being ousted over exposure of his ties to Russia, Flynn was a campaign surrogate for Trump past 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 Free-Prsite

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