Trump urged to prod Erdogan on human rights

After Zarrab's arrest past year, Erdogan unsuccessfully lobbied high-ranking Obama administration officials - including then-Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Loretta Lynch - for his release.

The two presidents' statements also didn't touch on another key Turkey-related issue: the extradition of cleric Fethullah Gulen. Mr Trump was painting the US-led fight against ISIL - which in Syria relied heavily on Kurdish forces that Turkey labels terrorists - as floundering, and promising a change of strategy. In May 2016, one-third of all refueling and one-fifth of the air support for the worldwide coalition fighting ISIS took place at that air base. Human Rights First notes that the White House's invitation to the Turkish president continues a disturbing trend of the Trump administration showcasing its willingness to engage uncritically with human rights violators and authoritarian regimes. President Trump has made clear that his primary response to their suffering is to try to ban even the most vulnerable from being resettled here and to propose major cuts to USA -funded programs that support their most basic needs.

The matter could emerge in Trump's meeting with Erdogan.

Trump and Erdogan could hash out an agreement where Turkey "trades" Raqqa to the United States and its Syrian Kurdish allies, in exchange for a us green light for a Turkish attack on the Sinjar region, a PKK stronghold in northern Iraq.

Trump launched cruise missiles last month at a Syrian air base after accusing Assad of using chemical weapons. Erdogan urged then-U.S. President Barack Obama to withhold support from Kurdish fighters and instead provide weapons and resources to other Syrian rebel factions backed by Turkey. Last week, JOL reported that Trump approved a plan to arm the Syrian Kurds in order to help them fight ISIS in Raqqa.

Trump highlighted his support for Turkey in the fight against terror and terror groups, including ISIS and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) - considered a terrorist group by the U.S., Turkey and Europe.

Earlier this month Turkey, Russia and Iran agreed to work together as guarantors of "safe zones" in Syria, excluding any USA involvement.

Quoting reports about the Turkish government allowing the Islamic State group to sell oil inside Turkey, Columbia's Phillips offered a theory about Erdogan's efforts to free the Turkish tycoon.

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"Washington, on the other hand, has made it amply clear that Turkey's demands are unlikely to be met because the USA has firm positions, or obstacles it can't overcome, that make it very hard to please Ankara", Idiz said. Trump said it was a "great honor" to host Erdogan. Observers, meanwhile, will be closely watching how Trump handles Turkey's deteriorating human rights situation.

Trump's approach until now has been to ignore or even endorse Erdogan's autocratic abuses.

But when the two men finally come face to face in Washington on Tuesday, the tone is set to be adversarial.

"Military equipment was ordered by Turkey and the president [Erdogan]", Trump stated. Then again, Russian Federation uses the Kurds as a convenient bargaining chip in its troubled dealings with Turkey: When things are friendly, Moscow will throw the Kurds under the bus; when tensions with Ankara spike, as they did in late 2015, Moscow ramps up its support for Kurds.

Trump disclosed potentially highly classified information to Russian emissaries last week. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to reporters.

Trump was to speak to another regional ally, Jordan's King Abdullah II, by phone on Tuesday.

The U.N. has warned damage to the Tabqa dam - Syria's largest - could lead to massive flooding, and a source who works with the dam's technicians said they had fled the structure as fighting drew near in recent days.


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