Archive for the ‘Trump and Turkey’ category

Turkey lira crashes to new lows as market alarm grows

August 10, 2018


© AFP | The lira’s drastic fall has European banks worried

10 August 2018 – 13H20 France 24

Source Link: Turkey lira crashes to new lows as market alarm grows

{Trump drops another economic bomb. – LS}

ISTANBUL (AFP) –

Turkey’s embattled lira on Friday hit new record lows against the US dollar and euro, losing over six percent in value as strains with the United States showed no sign of abating and fears grew over the exposure of European banks.

The lira was trading at 5.90 to the dollar, a loss on the day of 6.5 percent. Earlier, it had crashed some 12 percent through the 6.00 level for the first time in history, trading at one point at more than 6.20 lira per dollar.

The lira has now lost over a third of its value against both the dollar and the euro this year, with the currency battered by both concerns over domestic economic policy and the political situation.

Versus the euro on Friday the lira lost 7.0 percent to trade at 6.8.

Turkey remains at loggerheads with the United States in one of the worst spats between the two NATO allies in years over the detention for the last two years of American pastor Andrew Brunson and a host of other issues.

Talks this week in Washington failed to resolve the impasse which has led both sides to slap sanctions on senior officials amid fears of graver measures to come.

– Doubts over central bank –

Meanwhile, markets are deeply concerned over the direction of economic policy under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with inflation nearly 16 percent but the central bank reluctant to raise rates in response.

UBS chief economist for EMEA emerging markets Gyorgy Kovacs said a giant rate hike of 350-400 basis points would be “consistent with real rate levels that in the past helped to stabilise the currency.”

He warned a “rate hike alone might not stem the worries about the US and Turkey tensions and a potential further escalation.”

And it remains unclear if the bank would be willing to sharply lift rates with analysts saying the nominally independent institution is under the influence of Erdogan, who wants low rates to keep growth humming.

Erdogan after winning June 24 elections with revamped powers tightened his control over the central bank and appointed his son-in-law Berat Albayrak to head a newly-empowered finance ministry.

“President Erdogan’s strengthened powers under the new presidential system have made it increasingly uncertain whether policymakers will be able to act to stabilise the economy,” said William Jackson, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics in London.

He said the lira’s fall was being exacerbated by fears the central bank “isn’t being permitted to raise interest rates”.

– ‘Accelerating speed’ –

Concerns were intensified Friday by a report in the Financial Times that the supervisory wing of the European Central Bank (ECB) had over the last weeks began to look more closely at euro zone lenders’ exposure to Turkey.

The report said that the situation is not yet seen as “critical” but Spain’s BBVA, Italy’s UniCredit and France’s BNP Paribas are regarded as particularly exposed.

“Investors have been looking at the unfolding currency crisis in Turkey as a local difficulty, however the accelerating speed of the declines appears to be raising concerns about European banks exposure to the Turkish banking system,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Albayrak, who formerly served as energy minister, is on Friday expected to announce what he has described as a “new economic model” for Turkey but markets remain sceptical.

The president did nothing to reassure markets with comments overnight that the pressure on the lira was due to what he described as a “variety of campaigns” and appearing to play down the magnitude of the crisis.

“If they have dollars, we have our people, we have our right and we have Allah!” he said.

The plunge in the lira has featured remarkably little on Turkish television channels and newspapers — most of which after recent ownership changes are loyal to the government — with most media focusing instead on recent flooding by the Black Sea.

© 2018 AFP

Syrian frontline town divides NATO allies Turkey and U.S.

February 12, 2018

February 12, 2018 By Dominic Evans Reuters Via One America News Network

Source Link: Syrian frontline town divides NATO allies Turkey and U.S.

{The face off begins. – LS}

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A dispute between Turkey and the United States over control of a north Syrian town has put the NATO allies on opposing sides of the conflict’s front line, deepening a diplomatic rift ahead of a visit to Turkey by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

This week’s talks, already challenging given disagreements over President Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown after a failed 2016 coup, the detention of U.S. consulate staff and citizens, and the trial of a Turkish bank executive for evading U.S. sanctions on Iran, have been given added edge by the dispute over Syria.

Turkish and U.S. troops, deployed alongside local fighters, have carved out rival areas of influence on Syria’s northern border. To Ankara’s fury, Washington allied itself with a force led by the Kurdish YPG, a militia which Turkey says is commanded by the same leaders overseeing an insurgency in its southeast.

The dispute has come to a head over the Syrian town of Manbij, where Turkey has threatened to drive out a YPG-led force and warned the United States – which has troops there – not to get in the way.

“This is what we have to say to all our allies: don’t get in between us and terrorist organizations, or we will not be responsible for the unwanted consequences,” Erdogan said last month, days before launching a military offensive against the YPG in the northwestern Syrian region of Afrin.

{On the contrary, Mr. Erodogan, you WILL be held responsible if our troops are harmed in any way.  You can bet your Koran on it. – LS} 

Turkey would turn its attention to Manbij, about 100 km (60 miles) east of Afrin, “as soon as possible”, he said.

But Washington says it has no plans to withdraw its soldiers from Manbij, and two U.S. commanders visited the town last week to reinforce that message.

It has also warned that Turkey’s air and ground offensive in Afrin risks exacerbating a humanitarian crisis in Syria and disrupting one of the few corners of the country that had remained stable through seven years of civil war.

In a blunt but possibly understated assessment of Tillerson’s visit, a U.S. State Department official said Washington expected “a difficult conversation” in Ankara.

For Turkey, the dispute has pushed relations with the United States to breaking point.

“We will discuss these issues during Tillerson’s visit, and our ties are at a very critical stage,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday. “Either we will improve our ties, or they will completely deteriorate.”

“GUNG-HO” MILITARY

As the grievances between Washington and Ankara have escalated, Turkey has built bridges with rival powers Russia and Iran – even though their support has put Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in the ascendancy while Turkey still backs the weakened rebels seeking his downfall.

The three countries agreed a so far ineffectual plan to wind down the fighting between the Syrian army, which is supported by Russian air power and Iran-backed militias, and jihadist fighters and Turkish-backed rebels.

Turkey says it also won agreement to launch its Afrin operation from Russia, which controls most of the air space in western Syria.

In contrast, it says the United States has yet to honor several pledges: for Washington to stop arming the YPG, to take back those arms after Islamic State was defeated in Syria, and to pull back YPG forces from Manbij.

Last week’s visit to Manbij by U.S. military commanders was a short-sighted and thoughtless “military gung-ho gesture”, according to Erdogan’s senior foreign policy adviser, Gulnur Aybet.

“It is not helpful, at a time when the United States and Turkey are trying to find common ground … for U.S. generals in the field to undertake a flippant and provocative display in Manbij next to the YPG,” she told Reuters.

Relations with the United States were “fragile and frustrating because pledges have been unfulfilled and there is a lack of coherence between the White House and the military”, Aybet said.

U.S. VIEWED UNFAVORABLY

Erdogan has also said Turkey will “strangle” a force which the United States plans to develop in the large sweep of northern Syria which the YPG and its allies currently control, including more than 400 km (250 miles) of the border with Turkey.

His tough language, a year before presidential and parliamentary elections, resonates in a country where 83 percent of people view the United States unfavorably, according to a poll published on Monday.

The poll for the Center for American Progress also found that 46 percent of Turks think their country should do more to confront the United States, compared with 37 percent who believe it should maintain the alliance.

That sentiment has underpinned Erdogan’s unyielding response to other disputes with Washington.

He has dismissed criticism of Turkey’s crackdown since the failed July 2016 coup, in which 250 people were killed, saying the response is justified by the security challenges Turkey faces.

The president has also said the U.S. court conviction of an executive of Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank for evading Iran sanctions was a “political coup attempt” which showed the U.S.-Turkish partnership was eroding.

In October he accused the U.S. consulate in Istanbul of sheltering an employee with links to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for last year’s failed coup. Turkey has sought the extradition of Gulen, who has denied any link to the coup attempt.

Turkey’s detention of two locally employed U.S. consulate workers – without providing evidence, according to Washington – led to the two countries suspending visa services. Even when services were resumed, they disagreed publicly over what assurances had been made to resolve their differences.

“The U.S.-Turkey alliance can no longer be taken for granted,” Ozgur Unluhisarcikli of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, which promotes transatlantic cooperation, wrote in a report published ahead of Tillerson’s trip.

“That this relationship has endured several stress tests in the past is no guarantee that it will survive this one”.

Turkey warns US of ‘major catastrophe’ if Trump moves embassy

December 4, 2017

Turkey warns US of ‘major catastrophe’ if Trump moves embassy, Israel National News, David Rosenberg, December 4, 2017

(Please see also, Report: US Quietly Taking Major Steps Toward Moving Israeli Embassy. Contrary to this article, Humor | Turkey pardoned by Trump had multiple contacts with Russian officials, the pardoned critter was the Islamic Turkish Republic of Erdogan. The U.S. Embassy in The Republic of Erdogan is scheduled to be moved within a year to The Peoples’ Republic of California.– DM)

President Erdogan reasserts authority in TurkeyFlash90

The Turkish government has warned the US that it could spark a “major catastrophe” if President Trump follows through on his 2016 campaign promise to relocate the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

The warning was made Monday during a press conference held by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag.

During the televised statement, Bozdag warned the US against either relocating its embassy or even recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, claiming that any change in the status quo could cause a “catastrophe”.

“If the status of Jerusalem is changed and another step is taken… that would be a major catastrophe.”

“It would completely destroy the fragile peace process in the region, and lead to new conflicts, new disputes and new unrest.”

Bozdag also claimed that any moves to change the status quo vis-à-vis Jerusalem, including mere recognition of the city as Israel’s capital, would benefit “neither Israel … nor the
region.”

“It would not benefit anything. Rather than open new doors, it would drag the region into a new disaster.”

Inside sources have claimed to American and Israeli media outlets over the past two weeks that the president is poised to either relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem in the near future, or at least announce that the US is recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

Under the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, the president is obliged to move the embassy to Israel’s capital city, or sign a six-month waiver deferring the move on security grounds. Every president since Bill Clinton has signed the waiver every six months. President Trump signed the waiver once since coming into office, but according to at least some reports, is hesitant to renew the deferral.

The previous waiver expires on Monday, forcing the president to either renew the waiver immediately, or approve the relocation of the US embassy.

 

 

Red Lines in Syria

July 19, 2017

Red Lines in Syria, Front Page MagazineKenneth R. Timmerman, July 19, 2017

Suleymania, Iraq – With Saturday’s bombing of Afrin, a town controlled by America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria, Turkey appears to have crossed a line.

Turkish artillery pounded the Ashrafiyeh neighborhood near the city center as well as surrounding villages. Reports from the region said the Turkish attack killed five civilians, including an entire family that was buried alive in their own home, and damaged dozens of homes.

“This is considered the first targeting of the city since the start of Turkish preparations” to expand military operations in Northwest Syria last month, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Turkish attacks were not directed against ISIS or against any other Islamist group. The Turks targeted Afrin because it has become a key political hub for the Democratic Union Party of Syria, the YPD, which Turkey accuses of being part of the PKK.

I spoke with Asya Abdallah Osman, the co-president of the YPD, on the sidelines of a conference both of us were attending in Iraqi Kurdistan. She was visibly shaken when she called home and learned details about the civilian casualties in Afrin.

“We have been fighting [ISIS] because we as women do not want to be subjected to their inhumanity. But we need your help,” she said, meaning the United States. “We need no other. This is war and people are dying. It won’t be resolved by politics, only by hard power.”

She swept aside the Turkish allegations that the regional government of the YPD, and its associated militia, known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG), were controlled by the PKK, or that the PKK was using YPD territory to launch attacks into Turkey.

“We are an independent political party that belongs to Syria and to the Kurds. If the PKK has come to Syria, it’s because Turkey has forced them to come,” she said.

Turkey has long accused the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, or fighting a terrorist war against it, but also has been willing to negotiate with PKK leaders when it felt it could reach a deal to curtail the violence.

After Turkey violated a 2013 truce negotiated in Oslo that called for the PKK to remove its fighters from Turkey into northern Iraq, the PKK relocated remaining fighters into the Kurdish areas in Syria, known as Rojava.

Like most Kurds, Ms. Osman believes Turkey and its allies in the region do not want to see a successful democratic self-governing region in northern Syria, because it would encourage their own Kurds to seek greater autonomy.

“They accuse us of not being democratic, but we have allowed all political and ethnic groups to have representatives in the regional government. Our project is for all of Syria, not just Kurds,” she told me.

Ms. Osman traveled to Northern Iraq in a group of 65 Syrian Kurdish activists, representing nearly twenty political groups.

Normally, they would have entered Iraq via a pontoon bridge over the Tigris River at Semalka, in an area that has escaped the current fighting.

But the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq closed the border recently, forcing the Syrian pro-democracy delegates to make a dangerous 16-hour trek by foot across the only other border crossing into Iraq near Mount Sinjar, which is controlled by Iranian-backed Shiite militias.

“There is no Kurdish Regional Government,” Ms. Osman said dismissively. “There is only the KDP,” the Kurdish Democratic Party, dominated by President Massoud Barzani and his family.

She and other Kurdish activists at the weekend conference believe that Turkey pressured the Barzanis to close the Semalka border crossing in order to further isolate them. “Semulka is our only gate to the outside world,” she said. “When it is shut, we are closed off.”

She attributed claims that the YPD and its militia were controlled by the PKK to Turkish propaganda. “Of course, we have dialogue with other Kurdish parties, including the PKK. So do most Kurdish groups in the region. But we run our party and our administration ourselves. We elect our own officials and they take orders from no one.”

Indeed, I only learned after the conference that a member of the PKK central committee had attended the weekend event, sponsored by the Kurdistan National Congress, where three hundred delegates from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey strategized over a future Kurdish state or confederation.

There were few references to the PKK by the speakers, and the PKK central committeeman himself never spoke. The final declaration of the conference makes no mention of the PKK.

Both President Trump and Secretary of Defense Mattis have warned Turkey not to attack America’s Kurdish allies in Syria. Turkey has blithely ignored those admonishments until now.

Less than a month after President Trump at the White House personally rejected Erdogan’s demand that the U.S. drop support for the Syrian Kurds, Turkey began moving troops to encircle Afrin, the political capital of the Syrian Kurdish region, and other Kurdish controlled areas.

After Turkey started to attack YPG positions in late June, Secretary of Defense James Mattis upped the ante by declaring that the United States might allow the Kurdish group to keep U.S. supplied weapons after the battle for Raqqa to smash ISIS was over.

Some of Erdogan’s erstwhile political allies believe he Erdogan is playing a dangerous game.

Even before the Turkish attacks on civilians over the weekend, former Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis, who helped found Erdogan’s ruling AKP party, counseled against attacking the Syrian Kurds.

“The best course would be to negotiate a deal with the Syrian Kurds, persuade them not to attempt to change the ethnic composition of the region, and establish – preferably in cooperation with the Syrian government – a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional democratic administration,” Yakis wrote in a column for Arab News.

That is precisely the project Ms. Osman and the YPD have been proposing.

Erdogan showed his arrogance in Washington when he calmly observed his bodyguards cross a Capitol Police barrier in May to viciously bludgeon opposition protestors with truncheons.

But by putting his forces in a position where they could potentially clash with U.S. military units assisting the YPG and the Syrian Democratic Forces, Erdogan has shown a reckless side as well.

Turkey has been warned twice. Will Afrin prove to be the third strike for Erdogan in Syria?

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Slams American Fight Against Terror During July 4th Celebration

July 10, 2017

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Slams American Fight Against Terror During July 4th Celebration, Washington Free Beacon  July 10, 2017

US Ambassador to Turkey John Bass delivers a statement to journalists in Ankara on April 7, 2016. / AFP / ADEM ALTAN (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

“If we have learned anything from last year and the violence of this year, it is that the only answer to terrorism and violence is justice and tolerance,” he said.

*****************************

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass criticized the American fight against terrorism during a July Fourth celebration hosted by the U.S. consulate in Ankara, claiming that an “overly broad” definition of terrorism has hampered U.S. efforts to combat extremists and eroded international confidence in America.

Bass, a career foreign service officer who was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2014, urged Turkey to “avoid making the mistakes the U.S. made” in its fight against radical terrorists, telling those in attendance at an Independence Day reception “that rushing to justice or making an overly broad definition of terrorism can erode fundamental freedoms and undermine public confidence in government.”

Bass’s comments have come under scrutiny by Trump administration insiders and regional experts, who told the Washington Free Beacon that Turkey’s recent crackdown on scores of political dissidents in no way reflects America’s own battles in the region.

Insiders are viewing Bass’s criticism of U.S. policy on terrorism as a veiled rejection of President Donald Trump, who has come under fire from multiple U.S. officials who rose to prominence under Obama and are still serving in government.

For example, Dana Shell Smith, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Qatar until she resigned in June, came under scrutiny earlier this year when she signaled distain for representing the Trump administration while still serving as a U.S. official abroad.

“We support the Turkish government’s ongoing efforts to bring to justice those who were responsible for the terrible events of a year ago,” Bass said in comments recorded by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News, referring to a recent coup attempt in Turkey that resulted in the imprisonment and detention of more than 100,000 political opponents.

“In our own experience dealing with terrorism in recent years, in the U.S., we have learned some painful lessons,” Bass said, drawing parallels between Turkey’s crackdown and U.S. efforts to fight terrorists. “Among those lessons, we have learned that rushing to justice or making an overly broad definition of terrorism can erode fundamental freedoms and undermine public confidence in government. We learned those lessons the hard way.”

“It is our hope that our friends in Turkey will avoid making some of the same mistakes that we have made,” Bass was quoted as saying.

Bass’s public criticism of the U.S. fight against terrorism has raised eyebrows among Trump administration insiders and foreign policy experts, who noted a recent trend in which senior State Department stalwarts, many of whom served under Obama, have been willing to criticize U.S. policy and the Trump administration both on record and anonymously in the press.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and Middle East expert, chided Bass for comparing the U.S. fight against terrorism to Turkey’s recent coup attempt, in which thousands were jailed for taking up arms against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Let me get this straight: a democratic debate about the Patriot Act is the moral equivalent of jailing tens of thousands of people, and firing a hundred thousand more?” Rubin asked. “At the very least, the ambassador’s remarks reflect a culture problem within the State Department where criticizing U.S. policy is a virtue rather than a liability. Such moral equivalence insults all those in prison without evidence or real charges and hemorrhages both credibility and leverage.”

Bass also maintained in his remarks that the only way to combat terrorism is to promote “justice and tolerance.”

“If we have learned anything from last year and the violence of this year, it is that the only answer to terrorism and violence is justice and tolerance,” he said.

Sources close to the Trump administration’s foreign policy team told the Free Beacon that Bass’s remarks reflect an attitude of opposition to Trump among senior U.S. foreign service officers who served under Obama.

“Like many other officials who rose to prominence during the Obama administration, Ambassador Bass still hasn’t adjusted to the last election and what it means,” said one veteran Middle East analyst who works with the White House on these regional issues.

“We haven’t been too tough on terrorism,” the source said. “President Trump was elected in part because he was clear that, if anything, we’ve been way too weak. In any case July Fourth is an occasion for emphasizing America as the world’s beacon of freedom, not apologizing for real and imagined faults.”

State Department spokesmen did not respond to a Free Beacon request for comment on Bass’s remarks by press time.

After years of empty U.S. promises, Trump arms Kurds fighting ISIS in Syria

May 31, 2017

After years of empty U.S. promises, Trump arms Kurds fighting ISIS in Syria, Hot Air, Andrew Malcolm, May 31, 2017

Now, Kurdish and Arab troops in Syria, working with U.S. Special Forces, will have their own armored cars, heavy machine guns, bulldozers, antitank weapons and mortars because as one Pentagon spokesman put it, the Kurds are the “only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future.”

**********************

About time.

Finally, after years of dangerous dawdling the United States has actually begun arming Kurdish soldiers fighting ISIS in Syria.

Weapons supplies had been stockpiled nearby in anticipation of President Trump’s go-ahead, which came Monday. The armament distributions, which the commander-in-chief approved despite fierce opposition from NATO ally Turkey, will enable the tough Kurdish fighters to participate more aggressively in the imminent assault on the de facto ISIS capital of Raqqa.

The Obama administration talked of arming the Kurds, who also led the anti-ISIS fighting in northern Iraq, but wilted in the face of resistance from the Baghdad central government and Turkey. More than $200 million in armaments were earmarked for the Kurds and left behind in the Iraqi capital when Obama withdrew all U.S. troops in 2011. But somehow they never reached the Kurds, who were often left fighting ISIS forces that had better U.S. equipment captured from fleeing Iraqi troops.

Now, Kurdish and Arab troops in Syria, working with U.S. Special Forces, will have their own armored cars, heavy machine guns, bulldozers, antitank weapons and mortars because as one Pentagon spokesman put it, the Kurds are the “only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future.”

The arming decision comes as Secy. of Defense James Mattis has ordered changes in strategy against ISIS. Mattis describes the change as moving from an “attrition strategy,” which allowed ISIS fighters to escape current battles, to an “annihilation strategy,” which involves encirclement and total destruction. Mattis has also given battlefield commanders increased leeway in decision-making, which under Obama often involved seeking time-consuming approval all the way back to the White House.

Unhappy Turkish officials were informed of Trump’s decision Monday. They regard the Kurdistan Workers Party, P.K.K., as separatist terrorists within Turkey’s borders. Indeed, the U.S. and European allies also list the PKK as a terrorist outfit. However, the U.S. recognizes the separate People’s Protection Units of the Y.P.G. as an ally with the most experienced fighters. Bottom line: The more fighting the valiant Kurds do, the less potential involvement of U.S. forces.

Turkey made its position clear last month by bombing Kurdish units fighting in Syria with the U.S., dashing hopes that President Recep Erdogan would modify his position since he’s consolidated power.

To mollify Turkish concerns, Pentagon officials said the new arms will be doled out only according to the needs of the upcoming assignments. And they said every weapon would be accounted for afterward.

Uh-huh, right.

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.