Congress and White House at odds as Erdogan and Trump set to meet

Turkey’s President Erdogan, left, and his US counterpart Trump, right, shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan [Handout/Presidential Press Service/AP Photo]

The visit comes just a month after Turkey launched a military offensive against Kurdish YPG forces in northeast Syria.

The operation came following an agreement between Erdogan and Trump, after which the US president announced he was withdrawing troops from the area.

The withdrawal angered US Democrats and Republicans who saw the move as an abandonment of the Kurds, who had been one of the US’s main allies in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).

Today, a significant irritant in the US-Turkey relationship is Erdogan’s decision to buy S-400 missile defence systems from Russia. The US responded by suspending Turkey from the F-35 advanced fighter jet programme earlier this year, but has so far stopped short of implementing punishing sanctions over the move.

“Erdogan has shown many Turks that he could stand up to the US … and create a safe zone in northeast Syria in order to resettle Syrian refugees there,” Gerges told Al Jazeera. “He has shown his ability to strike a deal with Russia without incurring punishing sanctions by the Trump administration.”

Trump for his part, while threatening to “obliterate” Turkey’s economy, has also repeatedly complimented Erdogan, calling him a “friend” and a “strong man”.

“Domestically, President Erdogan has overseen a systematic rollback of democratic institutions in Turkey, concentrating all political power in his person, persecuting political opponents and peaceful protesters, and imprisoning journalists in shocking numbers,” the letter said.

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