Archive for the ‘Erdogan meets Trump’ category

About face: Turns out Trump did discuss Pastor Brunson with Erdogan

May 17, 2017

About face: Turns out Trump did discuss Pastor Brunson with Erdogan, Hot Air, Jazz Shaw, May 17, 2017

(I do not share the author’s reservations about turning Fethullah Gulen over to the Turks. He is doing significant harm to America. Please see,
Plotting Jihad in the Poconos—Who the Hell is Fethullah Gulen? — DM)

Was there an agreement reached which will see Pastor Brunson on his way home soon? We don’t know yet, but there may be some delicate horse trading going on in the background. It seems like a small enough gesture for Erdogan to make on his side of the equation and he might get a considerable return on his investment in exchange. I’ll still feel a bit queasy if it involves giving up Fethullah Gulen absent some proof that he actually was involved in or masterminded the failed coup attempt last summer, but if it comes down to it I suppose I’d still want to make the deal if nothing else could be worked out.

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Let’s get the retraction out of the way right up front as proof that my mind reading abilities are vastly overrated and that you miss some things if you go to bed too early. Yesterday evening I published a rather glum analysis of the Trump – Erdogan meeting, describing it as “kind of a bust.” One of the two primary disappointments for me was the lack of attention paid to the continued imprisonment of American Pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey. The line notes issued to the press following the meeting made no mention of it, nor did either leader bring it up in their brief, public remarks. While acknowledging that Trump might have been working on a deal behind the scenes, I concluded it was unlikely that he was or we would have heard about it.

So… funny story. Turns out Trump and Erdogan actually did discuss it. In fact it came up several times. They just didn’t feature that bit of the conversation in their public remarks. So, my apologies to the President for short changing him on this important issue. CNN had the details which came out overnight.

US President Donald Trump raised the issue of a US pastor imprisoned in Turkey three times during a meeting with the Turkish president Tuesday, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

The White House confirmed Trump had raised the subject of Brunson during his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington, their first face-to-face meeting since Trump took office in January.

“President Trump raised the incarceration of Pastor Andrew Brunson and asked that the Turkish Government expeditiously return him to the United States,” the White House said in a statement after the meeting.

The ACLJ celebrated the news in a statement on its website: “This is exactly what we asked the President to do and is a major sign of significant progress toward bringing Pastor Andrew home.”

I should also offer some thanks to the American Center for Law and Justice which has been all over this issue for some time and clearly gained the ear of both the President and the Vice President.

What’s left unknown after receiving this updated information is how Erdogan responded. Having the President ask about it several times and seeing the issue raised in the press (outside of the protective media blackout which Erdogan maintains inside his own country) is a good start. Was there an agreement reached which will see Pastor Brunson on his way home soon? We don’t know yet, but there may be some delicate horse trading going on in the background. It seems like a small enough gesture for Erdogan to make on his side of the equation and he might get a considerable return on his investment in exchange. I’ll still feel a bit queasy if it involves giving up Fethullah Gulen absent some proof that he actually was involved in or masterminded the failed coup attempt last summer, but if it comes down to it I suppose I’d still want to make the deal if nothing else could be worked out.

If we’re waiting for some sign that Erdogan is about to roll back some of his tyrannical tendencies at home, well… that’s probably a bit much to hope for. But in the end, this is about securing America’s interests, including the freedom of one our own citizens. That’s not a done deal yet, but we at least appear to be a bit closer than we have been over the past six months. Let’s all hope that the end is in sight.

Trump to Sit Down With Turkish President Erdogan Amid Heightened Tensions

May 16, 2017

Trump to Sit Down With Turkish President Erdogan Amid Heightened Tensions, Washington Free Beacon, May 16, 2017

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on May 14, 2017.
(Photo credit should read THOMAS PETER/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington, D.C., for the first time on Tuesday, one week after the White House announced plans to arm Syrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State despite fierce opposition from Ankara.

The meeting comes amid strained relations between the two NATO allies. Erdogan is expected to call on the Trump administration to reduce cooperation with the Kurdish YPG and renew demands for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric whom the Turkish president accuses of masterminding last year’s failed coup.

The prominent Turkish newspaper Sözcü in an op-ed published Sunday urged Erdogan to evict U.S. troops from the strategic Incirlik Air Base, located 60 miles from the Syrian border in southern Turkey. American forces have used the base to launch airstrikes against ISIS since 2015.

Michael Rubin, a resident scholar on the Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute, predicted Erdogan will threaten to deny the United States access to Incirlik in an attempt to pressure Trump to scale back the American partnership with the YPG. He said Erdogan may also pivot toward closer cooperation with Russia in Syria.

“Erdogan will be shooting himself in the foot if he does either because it would just push the U.S. into the arms of the Syrian Kurds,” Rubin told the Washington Free Beacon on Monday. “I don’t think we have anything to lose in this meeting. In this visit, all eyes will be on Erdogan.”

Discussions between the two leaders will center on how to “deepen our cooperation to confront terrorism in all its forms,” the White House said in a statement announcing the meeting.

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.

Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or the PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and Europe. Erdogan accused the Trump administration on Wednesday of siding with “terrorist organizations” and urged the White House to reverse the decision.

Rubin said a reversal is unlikely.

“If we were to give into Turkey by either halting our arming of the Syrian Kurds or extraditing Gulen it would cost the United States very deeply—it would be worse than [former president] Obama’s ‘red line,'” he said. “If you look at the balance sheet of what Turkey gets us, the balance is not in favor of Turkey.”

U.S. military officials have contended the YPG is the only force on the ground capable of forcing ISIS out of Raqqa in the near future. Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, told Pentagon reporters last week that providing arms to the Kurds will “accelerate” the offensive on Raqqa, where the U.S. military estimates about 4,000 ISIS fighters remain.

Though U.S.-Turkish relations may not be at risk in the short-term, Rubin predicted a “real crisis” with NATO should Erdogan seek closer relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin given that the United States shares classified information with NATO partners.

Trump and Erdogan’s meeting comes ahead of the 2017 NATO summit in Brussels scheduled to begin at the end of the month.