Trump, Turkey's Erdogan tout cooperation against terrorism

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Washington on Monday and is scheduled to meet President Donald Trump on Tuesday, May 16. It continued a trend of Trump's supporting strongmen, as Erdogan has been criticized for jailing the most journalists of any leader in the world, as well as tens of thousands of political dissidents. In addition, Turkey allowed IS to take over the Kurdish-dominated city of Kobani in 2014. Welcome to the program. Among the "suspects" are former CIA Director John O. Brennan, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) President, David Cohen and Henri Barkey, and the Director of the Middle East Program at Wilson Center.

In return, Trump will have to give Erdogan assurances that Gulen will be closely monitored while the USA courts examine a Turkish extradition request and that - once the Islamic State has been driven out of the Iraqi city of Mosul - Washington will endorse a Turkish offensive against PKK bases in Sinjar, northern Iraq.

The call was one sign of a budding friendship between Trump and Erdogan, with the two leaders issuing supportive statements after several phone calls since Trump won the USA presidential election in November.

A senior Turkish government official said, however, that Trump not focusing on human rights in Turkey was "not an issue for us".

The alliance was formed in October 2015 in part to address Turkey's concern about the rising profile of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia.

It isn't clear who is behind the raid on Boukamal but various activist groups blame the US -led coalition, which is waging war on IS.

The United States sees the YPG as distinct from the PKK and as a valuable partner in the fight against Islamic State.

"I hope very much that this (the creation of de-escalation zones) will be an effective tool, above all, for maintaining the cessation of hostilities", Putin said.

STEIN: They're very good fighters, and they take a lot of territory, and they do so quickly.

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Many in the USA think that at the end of the day, Turkey will have to accept the US decision to support the PYD. In this sense, the White House's decision to support the PYD ultimately contradicts its own goal of defeating Deash and al-Qaeda.

During the presidential campaign, when Trump was calling for a ban on Muslims entering the country and floating the idea of a Muslim registry, Erdogan called for the then-candidate's name to be removed from Istanbul's Trump Towers, saying Trump had "no tolerance for Muslims".

STEIN: Well, certainly the other issue besides the Syrian Kurds is a man named Fethullah Gulen, who's a self-exiled imam who lives up in Saylorsburg, Pa. Another thorny issue will certainly be the requested extradition of the USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the coup.

Foreign allies may see things differently.

STEIN: The purges began a little earlier. "The government pursued innocent people outside Turkey, pressuring Malaysia, for instance, to deport three Hizmet sympathizers last week, including a school principal who has lived there for more than a decade, to face certain imprisonment, and likely torture".

Back home, however, not all of Erdogan's countrymen were pleased. Let's put it that way.

STEIN: I don't think so.

Mr Trump has always said that he gives priority to defeating Isis, leading him to agree to a long-delayed plan to capture Raqqa with ground forces led by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

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