Thursday, 22 June, 2017

Turkish opposition urges Trump to prod Erdogan on rights

Trump Erdogan seek to mend strained ties at White House meeting Trump Erdogan seek to mend strained ties at White House meeting
Erik Tate | 17 May, 2017, 01:26

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to the White House on Tuesday and told reporters the two would have "long and hard discussions" that would make their bilateral relationship better.

In a report published by Turkey's pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper last week, Turkish officials blamed the U.S. decision to arm the YPG on Obama administration holdovers who were afraid that, in a face-to-face meeting, Mr Erdogan could persuade Mr Trump to adopt a position more friendly to Ankara.

But he didn't pass up the opportunity to register his unhappiness about the cleric Fethullah Gulen, now living in Pennsylvania, or about the U.S. supplying arms to the Kurdish YPG group that's helping Syrian rebels fight IS. You know, I think the Trump administration has by their own admission said that human rights is no longer going to be a top priority of worldwide relations.

This comes days after the US President Donald Trump agreed to arm Kurdish YPG units as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), that are in fight against ISIS extremists in the group's de facto capital of Raqqa. The hope of Tuesday's meeting is that both sides will see that if the USA becomes the friend of Turkey's enemy, it does not necessarily mean it becomes the enemy of Turkey.

"It is not an ideal political approach to fight against a terrorist organization with the help of another terrorist organization".

Dana W. White, the Pentagon's chief spokeswoman, has described the Syrian Kurds as "the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future". Turkey carried out airstrikes in Sinjar in recent weeks to target the PKK, attacks that Iraq and other Kurdish groups swiftly condemned. Trump, unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama, seemed less interested in lecturing Turkey on human rights. Will it be conciliatory, said the U.S.is trying to take steps?

Five previous rounds of UN-backed negotiations aimed at ending a six-year conflict that has killed more than 320,000 people have failed to yield concrete results.

The ceasefire talks - held in Astana, Kazakhstan - were spearheaded by Russian Federation and were widely seen as a way to sideline the United States from the process.

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Shortly before his visit, Erdogan blamed "Obama's men" in the Trump administration for misinforming Trump on the situation in Syria and Iraq.

The United Nations has for years failed to make crucial decisions in resolving the Syrian conflict as Russian Federation repeatedly used its veto power to shoot down resolutions.

Erdogan is also seeking the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher exiled in Pennsylvania, whom Erdogan considers a terrorist. Gulen has denied involvement in the coup and remains in the United States.

Yet Washington falls on deaf ears on Turkey's concerns, especially over arming YPG fighters ahead of a major offensive to drive the IS from Raqqa town of Syria, although Ankara warns that those weapons could end up with the PKK members. "In my opinion, the United States of America should not be an incubation center for FETO", he said.

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

"It is absolutely unacceptable to take the YPG-PYD into consideration as partners in the region, and it's going against a global agreement we reached", Erdogan said.

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. With this status, it has been able to carry out a widespread purge that has shaken up just about every aspect of public life in Turkey.

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