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Bolton (L) today with Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin. Photo: Halil Sagirkaya/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused today to meet with national security adviser John Bolton, then "took to live television instead to insult him for a lack of perspective," Bloomberg reports.

Background: President Trump announced a U.S. withdrawal from Syria last month after a conversation with Erdogan, but Bolton has since said the U.S. will not pull out until certain conditions are met. They include a guarantee from Turkey that it will not attack U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters, who hold a large swathe of territory that borders Turkey. The Turkish president considers those fighters terrorists. He was infuriated by Bolton's demands, which he called a "serious mistake" in a speech to Parliament today.

“Although we made a clear agreement with U.S. President Trump, different voices are emerging from different parts of the administration. Trump’s remarks continue to be the main point of reference for us.”
— Erdogan

Flashback: Trump said last month that U.S. troops in Syria were "all coming back, and they’re coming back now.” The announcement led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis, confusion among the other key players in the conflict and panic from the Kurdish forces.

  • The U.S. withdrawal timeline has since been extended to at least four months. Under Bolton's conditions for withdrawal, the U.S. could remain indefinitely.
  • Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both traveled to the Middle East this week to reassure allies about the Syria withdrawal, but there's still a great deal of confusion about what the U.S. plan entails.

The Turkey divide:

Expand chart
Data: Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit as of Jan. 7; Map: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The big picture: Bloomberg's Margaret Talev reports that Bolton arrived in Ankara with "5 core conditions" for U.S. withdrawal from Syria, and she criticized an op-ed by Erdogan published yesterday in the NY Times.

  • Erdogan — who has for months been threatening an offensive into Syrian territory held by the Kurdish YPG — argued that a Turkey-led "stabilization force" was needed following the U.S. withdrawal.
  • Both sides say a Bolton-Erdogan meeting was never formally scheduled. Bolton met with lower-level officials instead.
  • As NBC's Josh Lederman points out, Turkey's pro-government Daily Sabah has slammed Bolton and bemoaned what it calls a "soft coup against Donald Trump" in an editorial.

Go Deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 28 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas — Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements.
  3. Politics: Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19 — Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health."
  4. Economy: Report: World's 10 richest men doubled wealth during pandemicAmerica's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic.
  5. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — French parliament passes COVID vaccine passport legislation.
  7. Variant tracker

Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19

Photo: Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

State of play: Joint Staff spokesperson Col. Dave Butler said in a statement that Milley — who is fully vaccinated and has received a booster shot — is experiencing "very minor symptoms" and is "working remotely and isolating himself."

Momentum builds to ban lawmakers from trading stocks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Some progressive Democrats and MAGA Republicans are uniting on a proposal to ban sitting lawmakers from trading individual stocks, although it's unlikely that leadership will bring the bill up for a vote.

Why it matters: Members of Congress have great power to move stock prices, and great financial incentives to do so.