Turkish opposition urges Trump to prod Erdogan on rights

Turkey's leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan was set to meet with President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday (May 16), hoping to fix ties frayed over Syria and the presence in the USA of a bitter political foe.

This week Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is making an historic visit to Washington for extensive dialogue with the Trump-Pence administration. While European leaders persisted in badgering Erdogan about "creeping autocracy" after he amassed more power in a national referendum last month, Mr. Trump offered his congratulations.

Since entering office, Erdogan has systematically eroded the country's democratic institutions, restricted a free press, and undermined the rule of law. In the months that followed, almost 150,000 soldiers, judges, academics, journalists and others were detained or lost their jobs in a roundup of suspected sympathizers.

After Zarrab's arrest previous year, Erdogan unsuccessfully lobbied high-ranking Obama administration officials - including then-Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Loretta Lynch - for his release.

The call was one sign of a budding friendship between Trump and Erdogan, with the two leaders issuing supportive statements after several phone calls since Trump won the US presidential election in November. The U.S. sees the Syrian Kurds as their best battlefield partner on the ground in northern Syria.

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Turkish government officials bristled last week at the Trump administration's decision to distribute weapons and ammunition to Kurdish YPG fighters to assist in the operation to retake Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS's self-proclaimed caliphate.

"It is a great honor to have President Erdogan from Turkey here", Trump said greeting Erdogan. He also noted that the US and Turkey work alongside each other at the United Nations, NATO and the Group of 20 developed and developing countries. The U.S. also has used Incirlik to supply military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Guiliani's ties with both Trump and Turkey have been under intense scrutiny by the Manhattan judge in the Iran sanctions case, who asked at one point whether Giuliani was working for Erdogan or Zarrab. Russian Federation and the USA could help Turkey get better relations with Syria's Kurds.

However, Ankara considers the key Kurdish component of the SDF to be an affiliate of the designated "terrorist" group Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey.

"As I have previously done so, I have been frankly communicating our expectations with regard to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization, which we have notified our friends of their involvement in the failed coup", Erdogan said, through an interpreter.

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Tensions rose after Washington said it planned to arm Syrian Kurdish fighters belonging to the People's Protection Units (YPG), a group that Washington has backed in the fight against the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) but which Ankara considers a terrorist group. But Erdogan lost his main supporter in Trump's inner circle when Michael Flynn, the national security adviser, was forced to resign after only 24 days in office.

But the meeting will take place with a White House still responding to what a senior US official said was disclosure of classified information about an Islamic State terror threat involving laptop computers on aircraft. Another thorny issue will certainly be the requested extradition of the US -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the coup.

Erdogan had pledged to use the White House meeting to try to get Trump to change course on the YPG. I know that they will be very successful.

Last week, the Turkish president sent a high level delegation including chief of army, head of intelligence agency and his close adviser to Washington to lay grounds for his upcoming meeting with the US president. They think "Turks are going to have to swallow it" and after protesting for a while, Ankara will not do much to hinder that decision because it will need the U.S.in the long-term and have no other options.

"Military equipment was ordered by Turkey and the president [Erdogan]", Trump stated.

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