Erdogan visits Trump, amid much friction between US, Turkey

But Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who met with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim last week in London, after the arming decision had been announced, described it as final. The United States has designated the PKK as a terror organization but not the YPG.

Turkey had hoped that Trump’s inauguration would mark a new chapter in ties with Washington after long-running tensions with the Obama administration over Syria policy and Ankara’s demands for the extradition of USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Such an expulsion is unlikely to happen right now, with President Erdogan planning to visit the U.S. this month, and the timing of the announcement was likely based on limiting Turkey’s ability to react, beyond likely complaining during the visit itself.

He blamed USA bureaucracy left from Obama administration for American insistence for relying on the Syrian Kurdish militia. Turkey pointed to the links the YPG has to the PKK, which both sides agree is a terrorist group. The Pentagon, however, considers the YPG the most effective military partner against the Islamic State.

But a face-to-face confrontation on the matter between Trump and Erdogan seems inevitable. Given that Turkey considers partnering with the YPG a non-negotiable condition, it is hard to see how the two leaders will work out a resolution.

Erdogan says he will seek to persuade Trump to reverse the decision announced last week to provide heavy weapons to the YPG in preparation for an all-out assault on Raqqa, the Islamic State’s so-called capital.

“Turkey is an important ally, but granting Erdogan an Oval Office photo op is unnecessary, and sends an unmistakable message to human rights defenders around the world”, added Berschinski.

The envoy said he wouldn’t comment on Assad’s remarks, aired by Belarus ONT television on Thursday.

Throughout the United States military involvement against ISIS in Syria, they’ve heavily relied on their air base in Incirlik, Turkey.

Trump also has much at stake. Turkey reportedly imprisons more journalists than any other country on earth. “If the situation evolves in accordance with this scenario, it will be possible to say that we are attaining the goals that have been set”.

On the Gulen matter, Erdogan is expected to discuss some interim steps that his government has already asked for, such as Justice Department questioning of the cleric, restrictions on his US movements while the extradition request is pending, or at least an effort to curtail the weekly video messages he sends to his followers in Turkey. It took over a year and a half of tortuous negotiations for Turkey to open the Incirlik Air Base for coalition air missions against IS. In response to last year’s attempted coup, Erdogan initiated a massive crackdown, jailing almost 50,000 people without due process and firing more than one hundred thousand public sector employees. In March 2016, family members of USA personnel stationed at Incirlik were ordered to evacuate amid rising security concerns.

Erdogan stressed in statements before heading to Beijing to participate in “One Belt, One Road” forum, which was held on Sunday, that he was discussing with Trump the USA relations with Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.

On Wednesday morning, the Turkish government denounced the United States of America decision.

According to the USA think-tank The Washington Institute, “Trump could convince Erdogan to make a deal on Raqqa by agreeing to support a potential Turkish campaign against Sinjar, an emerging PKK base that straddles the Iraq-Syria border”.

As ties to Europe are fraying, Turkey’s relations with Moscow are improving after three years of sanctions imposed by Russia after Turkey show shot down a Russian plane in 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin waded into the spat on Monday, helpfully noting that he sees no reason to to arm the Syrian Kurds, a jab against Washington.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif delivers a speech at the One Belt One Road Forum in Beijing