Turkey’s Erdogan visits the White House: talks turn to Syria

Turkey’s Erdogan visits the White House: talks turn to Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to meet Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday. The fight against

Photo: Reuters/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Photo: Reuters/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to meet Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday. The fight against ISIS and US support for Syria’s Kurds will top the agenda.

The Trump administration ruffled feathers last Monday when it reaffirmed the US commitment to directly arming Syrian Kurdish forces—a policy Turkey strongly opposes.

In a bid to convince Mr Trump to change tack, the Turkish president may frame US support for Kurdish militias as a relic of Barrack Obama’s foreign policy.

Erdogan could also offer Turkey take a leading role in Syria by providing the boots on the ground to pursue ISIS, thus removing the need for US-Kurdish cooperation. However, having a NATO ally take a lead role in the geopolitical quagmire that is the Syrian Civil War would be risky—particularly with Russian forces active in the theatre.

While Erdogan will try to tempt Trump, the US leader has already expressed an interest in his predecessor’s ‘Kurd first’ policy, suggesting a change is unlikely.