Nov 6, 2019

Trump confirms Turkey's Erdoğan will visit White House next week

Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Wednesday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodğan has accepted his invitation to visit the White House on Nov. 13.

"Just had a very good call with President Erdogan of Turkey. He informed me that they have captured numerous ISIS fighters that were reported to have escaped during the conflict – including a wife and sister of terrorist killer al Baghdadi. Also talked about their Border with Syria, the eradication of terrorism, the ending of hostilities with the Kurds, and many other topics. Look forward to seeing President Erdogan next Wednesday, November 13th at the White House!"

Why it matters: Erdoğan's visit comes roughly a month after Turkey announced a military incursion against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in northern Syria, resulting in international outcry and sanctions from the Trump administration. Those sanctions were ultimately lifted after a ceasefire deal that intended to create a "safe zone" along the Turkish border, free of Kurdish forces.

  • Erdoğan's invasion caused a massive bipartisan backlash in Washington, putting his visit in doubt.
  • He was also enraged last week when the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Flashback: During Erdoğan's last visit to the White House in 2017, Turkish security personnel attacked Kurdish protestors in Washington. Fifteen bodyguards were indicted, but charges were later dropped in March 2018 ahead of a meeting between Erdoğan and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Go deeper: Trump declares victory in Syria, lifts sanctions on Turkey

Go deeper

Trump praises Turkey's Erdoğan as "great ally" despite Syria tensions

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Trump. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump lauded Turkey as a “great NATO ally” during a press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday in which tensions between the countries simmered beneath the surface.

The big picture: Erdoğan's invasion of northern Syria last month sparked bipartisan outrage in Washington and came with the countries already locked in a dispute over Turkey’s purchase of a Russian s-400 missile system. Erdoğan was defiant on those points, and he lashed out over votes in the House of Representatives to back sanctions on Turkey and recognize the Armenian genocide.

Go deeperArrowNov 13, 2019

Scoop: Erdogan upends Oval meeting to play anti-Kurd film on iPad

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at a press conference with President Donald Trump. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

An Oval Office meeting yesterday with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took a dark turn when Erdoğan pulled out his iPad and made the group watch a propaganda video that depicted the leader of the primarily-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces as a terrorist, according to three sources familiar with the meeting.

Why it matters: The meeting hosted by President Trump included five Republican U.S. senators who've been among the most vocal critics of Turkey's recent invasion of Syria and attacks on the U.S.'s Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS.

Go deeperArrowNov 14, 2019

Top diplomat says U.S. abandoned Kurds to "catastrophic" Turkish assault

Civilians in the Syrian Kurdish border town of Ras al-Ain mourn those killed in Turkish attacks. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. "didn't try" to stop the "catastrophic" Turkish invasion of northern Syria last month, according to a sharply critical internal memo sent by a top U.S. diplomat and obtained by the New York Times.

Why it matters: The diplomat, deputy U.S. envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition William Roebuck, said the U.S. had abandoned its Kurdish allies to a Turkish onslaught that involved "war crimes and ethnic cleansing." Those concerns have been widespread in the Pentagon and State Department but not stated publicly by senior officials. Roebuck sent the memo on Oct. 31 to the U.S. envoy for Syria policy, James Jeffrey, and to more than 40 other officials who work on Syria issues.

Go deeperArrowNov 7, 2019