The new Turkey
Turkey - US relations. Some articles from february 2018.

17-Feb-2018

February 2018. March 2018. April 2018. May 2018.

Erdogan warns USA: "It will be a scorching summer"

23 February 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, addressing the heads of Turkish provincial governors on Friday, warned the Kurdish militias it is fighting in northwest Syria and the United States, saying that Turkey is "up for the challenge".

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to defeat the mostly Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) which are control of Afrin, an area in northwest Syria. Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a terroris-designated group that has been in armed conflict with Turkey for decades.

The United States, however, see Kurdish forces connected to the YPG as essential allies in the fight against the Islamic State, has provided support to these groups, and has deployed ground forces to a nearby area under their control, Manbij.

"This summer will be scorching hot for both the terrorist organisation and its supporters," said Erdoğan. "If there are those who are prepared to sacrifice themselves for this cause, we are up for that challenge." 

"Turkey can no longer stomach U.S. delaying tactics. We are carefully watching those (who are supporting) the terrorist organisation (PYD)," Erdoğan said. "If someone is planning to spend $500-550 million to support (the terrorists), are we supposed to wish them good luck?"

Erdoğan said in his speech that 1973 terrorists had been neutralised since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch

"Thousands of villages are now free from these terrorists," said the Turkish president, adding that Turkey's Syrian opposition allies, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), were fighting hard.

Erdoğan maintained that the Turkish army is planning to encircle Afrin city centre and denied that there had been any civilian casualties during the operation.

"Those who say that the civilians were killed in Afrin are obliged to prove those allegations. If we were attacking indiscriminately, we would be in Afrin city centre by now" he argued.

The Turkish president also reiterated his desire to return Syrian refugees hosted by Turkey to their own country, quoting the number in Turkey as 3.5 million.Source



We have never betrayed our allies: Erdoğan

25 February 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Feb. 25 accused the U.S. of “betraying” Turkey for its support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), saying Ankara never “betrayed its allies.”

Referring to the U.S. forces’ collaboration with the YPG militia in Syria, during a speech in the southeastern province of Gaziantep Erdoğan said: “Those coming from 11,000 kilometers away, those paying their [YPG] salaries, if you are our ally, do what an alliance requires, and if you are not, tell us so. We have taken steps with our allies and have not betrayed them. And we will not have respect for those who have betrayed us.”

The Turkish president made the comments while addressing a huge crowd in the province ahead of the sixth ordinary provincial congress of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Gaziantep.

Erdoğan also accused the U.S. of “standing behind” the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), widely accused of masterminding a failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016. “Do we have another state other than the Republic of Turkey? Where is the parallel state [referring to the FETÖ]? In Pennsylvania [where FETÖ leader Fethullah Gülen is based]. Who stands behind him [Gülen]? You there [in the U.S.] are hiding the one who undertook the coup from your strategical partner. If you are not giving him to us, I cannot explain this to my nation. So, what you should do is give this FETÖ coup plotter back to this country,” he said.

Erdoğan said there would be no stepping back in the fight against FETÖ and those found guilty would continue to pay a “heavy” price for what they did, including being given aggravated life imprisonment sentences.

Turkish authorities previously said that all procedures had been completed on the part of Turkey regarding Gülen’s extradition and Ankara was waiting for the U.S. to launch the relevant process.

Erdoğan also touched upon some countries’ ongoing support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his speech, saying “how it is possible that this man is being looked after.”

“Assad is a murderer. Isn’t he the one that has killed nearly one million of his citizens? Isn’t he the one who, besides chemical weapons, killed his own citizens with conventional weapons? We have never stood by oppressors. We have never oppressed,” he said.

Erdoğan added that Turkey’s ongoing “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s Afrin district was undertaken to protect locals from oppression. “We have gone to Afrin for this reason, and we’ll continue to stand against the oppressors,” he said.

He said the number of militants so far “neutralized” in the operation currently reached 2,021 but vowed it will keep on increasing. “Until no terrorist is left there; we hopefully will expel all of the terrorists there and will hand those lands to their owners,” he said.

Turkish authorities use the word “neutralized” in statements to imply that the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

Later, Erdoğan also held a speech during the congress, where he reiterated Turkey’s “determination to fight against terror groups in Syria” and said Turkey would return the region to its “real owners.”

“Around 140,000 of our Syrian brothers have returned so far and started living on their own soil, which we secured during the Operation Euphrates Shield,” he said, referring to a previous cross-border operation led by Turkey that ended last March.

“After the Afrin operation, our brothers will return to their own lands and end their lives in refuge.”

 According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from oppression and cruelty.
Source: www.hurriyetdailynews.com/we-have-never-betrayed-our-allies-erdogan-127888


Pentagon spokesman responds with concern to Erdoğan tirade

A Pentagon spokesperson has responded to criticism from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after the Turkish president took offence to his remarks about civilian casualties in the ongoing Turkish offensive in northwest Syria, Operation Olive Branch.

Pentagon spokesperson Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway’s response emphasised the United States’ significant concerns around the fighting in Afrin and reiterated the call for measures to prevent civilian casualties in Olive Branch, which has slowly advanced towards the town centre of Afrin since it was launched on Jan. 20 this year.

Rankine-Galloway’s previous comments about civilian casualties earlier this week prompted an indignant reaction from the Turkish president.

“The thing that upsets us the most is the hypocrisy and insincerity of some of our partners, of some countries with which we have profound political and military relations,” responded Erdoğan during a speech on Friday, accusing Washington of double standards for ignoring the Syrian regime’s atrocities elsewhere in Syria while criticising Turkey’s operation in Afrin.

“We are very concerned about the situation in northwest Syria, and we call on all parties to remain focused on defeating ISIS, de-escalating and resolving the Syrian conflict, and protecting innocent civilians,” wrote Rankine-Galloway in an email response to Ahval’s questions regarding Erdoğan’s comments.

Pentagon spokesperson also said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime “continues to commit atrocities against the Syrian people, abetted by international backers”, and highlighted the regime’s attacks in Eastern Ghouta, Bayt Jinn, and Idlib province which he said were in violation of international agreements.

The fighting in Afrin is particularly damaging for U.S.-Turkey relations since Turkey’s considers the People’s Protection Units (YPG), U.S. allies against ISIS, as its adversary. Erdoğan also repeated his threat to take the fight against the YPG to the nearby area of Manbij, where U.S. special forces are deployed.

Rankine-Galloway addressed the complicated situation between the two NATO allies and the Syrian Kurdish forces in the email, saying that the United States recognised the Afrin operation as Turkey’s right to secure its border. He went on to say that the “armed Kurdish groups” defending Afrin were not partners with the United States.

Source: https://ahvalnews.com/us-turkey/pentagon-
spokesman-responds-concern-erdogan-tirade


Exclusive: United States backs Cyprus rights to gas exploration

21 February 2018

The United States has weighed in on the mounting dispute over gas exploration rights around the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, telling Ahval that it supports the right of the Republic of Cyprus right to explore its waters for potentially valuable gas resources.

"‎The U.S. policy on Cyprus’s EEZ is long-standing and has not changed: the United States recognises the right of the Republic of Cyprus to develop its resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone,” a State Department spokesperson told Ahval.

The discovery of vast gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has prompted a rush of investment since 2009, with the discovery of the record-breaking Zohr gas field in Egyptian waters particularly exciting news for Cyprus, whose exclusive economic zone borders the estimated 30 trillion cubic feet gas fields.

But the activity around Cyprus has ruffled feathers in Turkey, the only country which does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus since the island was split between a Turkish Cypriot north and Greek Cypriot south in 1974. The government in the south is internationally recognised as the Republic of Cyprus.

Turkey has demanded the Greek Cypriot government secure permission from the Turkish north before carrying out gas exploration, calling a deal between Egypt and the Republic of Cyprus a contravention of Turkish Cypriots’ “inalienable rights”, and has vowed to carry out its own exploration off the island.

Turkey also obstructed a gas exploration vessel belonging to Italian energy giant Eni from entering the area in February, prompting criticism from the European Union and Greece.  

The U.S. State Department spokesperson suggested the dispute would be best solved through an overall solution to the Cyprus dispute. 

“We continue to believe the island’s oil and gas resources, like all of its resources, should be equitably shared between both communities in the context of an overall settlement,” said the spokesperson. “We discourage any actions or rhetoric that increase tensions in the region."

The Republic of Cyprus is expected to lodge a protest with the United Nations over moves by Turkey to prevent the Italian vessel from exploring for gas in the eastern Mediterranean.  

Turkey will face a confrontation with Egypt if it does not respect Cairo’s rights for gas exploration won in a deal with Cyprus, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid warned early in February.

Following more than a week of the Turkish navy blocking Eni's vessel, U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil announced plans to send two surveying vessels to Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone despite the ongoing dispute. Source



Erdogan warns USA: "It will be a scorching summer"

23 February 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, addressing the heads of Turkish provincial governors on Friday, warned the Kurdish militias it is fighting in northwest Syria and the United States, saying that Turkey is "up for the challenge".

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to defeat the mostly Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) which are control of Afrin, an area in northwest Syria. Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a terroris-designated group that has been in armed conflict with Turkey for decades.

The United States, however, see Kurdish forces connected to the YPG as essential allies in the fight against the Islamic State, has provided support to these groups, and has deployed ground forces to a nearby area under their control, Manbij.

"This summer will be scorching hot for both the terrorist organisation and its supporters," said Erdoğan. "If there are those who are prepared to sacrifice themselves for this cause, we are up for that challenge." 

"Turkey can no longer stomach U.S. delaying tactics. We are carefully watching those (who are supporting) the terrorist organisation (PYD)," Erdoğan said. "If someone is planning to spend $500-550 million to support (the terrorists), are we supposed to wish them good luck?"

Erdoğan said in his speech that 1973 terrorists had been neutralised since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch

"Thousands of villages are now free from these terrorists," said the Turkish president, adding that Turkey's Syrian opposition allies, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), were fighting hard.

Erdoğan maintained that the Turkish army is planning to encircle Afrin city centre and denied that there had been any civilian casualties during the operation.

"Those who say that the civilians were killed in Afrin are obliged to prove those allegations. If we were attacking indiscriminately, we would be in Afrin city centre by now" he argued.

The Turkish president also reiterated his desire to return Syrian refugees hosted by Turkey to their own country, quoting the number in Turkey as 3.5 million. Source



U.S. caution grows over Turkish F-35s – lobbyist

20 February 2018

U.S. opposition is increasing to the sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to Turkey, a purchase that would upset power balances in the Aegean Sea, according to Endy Zemenidis, executive director of U.S.-based Greek lobby group, the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC).

A growing number of officials in the U.S. foreign policy establishment and Congress are seeing Turkey as an unpredictable and unreliable ally, Zemenidis said, according to Greek website Ekathimerini.

Last week, HALC and the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) began a campaign to block the sales of the fighter jets, saying Ankara is using U.S. weapons against allies and strategic partners. Turkey’s planned purchase of Russian S-400 defence missiles, which U.S. officials say is not compatible with NATO protocol, has also increased opposition to selling the aircraft to the country.

“Turkey’s provocations occur consistently and steadily more dangerous,” Zemenidis said, referring to tensions in the Aegean and around the gas-rich island of Cyprus. “Allowing them to marry these provocations with the latest in American military technology is a recipe for disaster.

“There will be very strong opposition in Congress – which already acted against small arms sales to Turkish security forces – and in which measures challenging the F-35 transfer have been circulated. Turkey’s critics are prominent, vocal and growing in numbers.”

Turkey approved an initial order for two F-35s in May 2014 and is to take delivery of 10 aircraft per year after they enter service in 2018, with 100 F-35s on order. The country has invested $195 million in the program since 1999.

The Turkish military has launched an offensive against Kurdish militant in Syria who are allied with the United States in its fight against Islamic State (ISIS). Germany has also put the sale of some armaments to Turkey on hold citing a crisis in relations and the country’s human rights record.

The State Department “has reached its wits end with regard to Turkey and may be both unwilling and unable to change minds on Capitol Hill,” Zemenidis said. Source



U.S.-Turkey averted a crisis – Senior Advisor to Erdogan

19 February 2018

A senior advisor to the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, in an interview, that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit last week averted a break in U.S.-Turkey ties.

“It was an earnest visit, as Tillerson was making every effort he could to try to reach an understanding regarding Turkey’s concerns,” told Gülnur Aybet, Senior Advisor to the Turkish President and a professor of international relations, “It is fair to say that we were heading towards a collision and that has been averted.”

"Until the visit, U.S.–Turkey relations could be described as frustrating, and on the part of the U.S. inconsistent, as there were promises given to us on various occasions since last May that were not fulfilled. " said Aybet, adding that Tillerson made "every effort he could to try to reach an understanding in which Turkey’s concerns and frustrations could be met by the American side."

The advisor said that both sides agreed to establish working groups to deal with two separate issues, one concerning Turkey's worries about a U.S. based cleric, Fethullah Gülen, that Turkey claims to be the mastermind of 2016 coup attempt, and the other one regarding the risk of NATO allies colliding in Syria's Manbij region. The U.S. has some forces in Manbij, working with the local militia to fight against ISIS. Turkey considers some of the groups that the U.S. is cooperating in Syria, to be connected to a domestic insurgent movement.

The senior advisor said that the "results-oriented work groups" will try and find a solution to the "Manbij problem."

Answering the reporter's question about a possible lack of coordination between Washington and Ankara in Syria, Aybet said: "All aspects of the U.S. government are concerned that they should not be on a collision course with a NATO ally and all of them look very positively at results-oriented mechanisms."
Source: https://ahvalnews.com/us-turkey/us-turkey-averted-crisis-senior-advisor-erdogan



"We gave U.S. one more chance" - Turkish foreign minister

18 February 2018

Unless Turkey and the U.S. find a way to normalise relations, bilateral ties will grow even worse, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Sunday.

"Our relations with the U.S. have been going through a critical period. Either we are going to normalise relations, put them back on track, or they will get even worse,” said Çavuşoğlu, speaking to journalists during his official visit to Amman, Jordan.

'US must keep its promises' Çavuşoğlu said stressing that the normalisation of ties between NATO allies depends on the U.S. keeping its promises. “You can say that we gave the U.S. another chance to bilateral relations, one more chance,” he said, "the U.S. needs to take advantage of this chance. We are determined. We are committed to (moving our forces) to Manbij. "

Çavuşoğlu said that Turkish and American officials would hold their first working group meeting in the first half of March under the new mechanism.

“Let’s see how they’re going to deliver,” he said, warning that if they do not deliver, “then we have to deal with that.”

Turkish foreign minister said that U.S. and Turkish officials agreed to establish two mechanisms, to address issues of disagreement between the countries during U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Ankara last week. The first mechanism, Çavuşoğlu said is regarding Turkish side's demands about a U.S.-based cleric, Fethullah Gülen, who Turkey accuses of orchestrating the coup attempt in July 2016.  The second mechanism is concerning Syria, "how they are going to meet our concerns, how the YPG is going to leave Manbij, and how we coordinate this together, and how those [Syrian] towns and cities are going to be governed, by whom, and who is going to ensure the security of these cities and towns,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Relations between the two countries allies have been tense over U.S. support for the Kurdish militia, PYD in northern Syria. The U.S. has been working with the group that in the fight against ISIS, despite strong Turkish objections.

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched a military action, nick-named Operation Olive Branch, aiming to remove terrorist groups, including PYD from northwestern Syria.

Source: https://ahvalnews.com/us-turkey/we-gave-
us-one-more-chance-turkish-foreign-minister



The U.S. deceived us many times since Obama - Erdoğan

18 February
Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said that the U.S. had deceived Turkey many times since Obama during a speech he gave for the Ankara provincial congress of his party, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), today.

"Restraint, restraint, restraint... Even during (the Former US President Barack) Obama's presidency,  we talked about the military operation now known as Operation Olive Branch. We were not deceived once or twice, we were betrayed so many times," said the Turkish strongman.

The rift in the relation between the two countries started in 2014. Looking for partners as the Islamic State swept across Iraq and Syria, President Barack Obama pleaded with Mr Erdoğan to help in the fight against the militants. Erdoğan initially appeared to be refusing.

Not being able to work with the Iraqi Army that was in shambles, or the Peshmerga, military forces of the federal Iraqi Kurdistan, the Americans reached out to the local Syrian Kurdish militias during Kobane war to help defend themselves against the siege laid by ISIS in late 2014.  

The Americans' use of the Kurdish forces soured their relationship with both Baghdad and Ankara, but at the time Pentagon stated that they had little choice.

Erdoğan does not see eye to eye with his NATO ally, however, stated today, "We told the USA that we were willing to join the Rakka operation. We are strategic partners, (we warned the U.S. administration) that they cannot fight a terrorist organisation, with the help of another terrorist organisation. We said history will teach you that lesson" he said.

Most recently, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Turkey, to patch up the crumbling relationship between NATO allies. Tillerson emphasised that the two sides share the goal of a stable, unified Syria and will work closely and swiftly on "the issues that are causing difficulties for us, and we're going to resolve them," during his joint press conference with the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. Tillerson also admitted during the press conference that the relations between the countries indeed reached ‘’crisis point.’’ Source


 

"There is a risk of conflict between two NATO partners" -German diplomat

17 February
Munich Security Conference (MSC) chairman Wolfgang Ischinger, in an interview, said that unless the parties involved could agree on a common strategy in Syria, the situation might escalate into an open conflict between the U.S., Turkey, and Russia. 

“I see a huge escalation risk. There is a risk of conflict between two NATO partners, Turkey and the United States," the German diplomat was quoted, "and I think that what we need is that Russia, the U.S., Turkey and others need to see eye to eye and start talking about a common strategy to end the war in Syria,” according to the Iraqi Kurdish newspaper Rudaw.

Turkey-U.S. hit their lifetime low when the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Senior government officials accused America of sponsoring the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey claims are an off-shoot of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an association that YPG denies. 

The U.S., on the other hand, claims that its support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which YPG is a part of, is a collaboration against ISIS.

Turkish officials, including the president, has threatened to send its forces east to the city of Manbij, where some U.S. Forces are stationed, after the Turkish military launched Operation Olive Branch on January 20, which could possibly lead to a confrontation between former allies. Source 


Turkish president’s spokesman cautions against U.S. long-term plans in Syria

17 February 2018

In an opinion piece published on Saturday 17th February, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın questioned the U.S.’s long-term intentions in Syria.

Writing in the Turkish daily Sabah, Kalın implied that U.S. activities in Syria do not align with goals shared by major stakeholders involved in the ongoing conflict, namely clearing Syria of terrorists, maintaining the country’s territorial integrity and establishing a legitimate and inclusive government.

Rather, Kalın suggests continued U.S. collaboration with groups in Syrian associated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), such as the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) and People's Protection Units (YPG) undermines efforts to achieve these shared objectives, and is rather motivated by U.S. geo-political ambitions in the region.  

“The issue for the U.S. is no longer defeating Daesh or keeping Bashar Assad in power for Iran, but rather grabbing geo-political positions in Syria. U.S. officials do not hide the fact that they will stay in Syria for the foreseeable future as a countervailing force against Iran. Thus, Syrian territories are turning into a proxy war scene between the U.S., Israel and some Gulf countries on the one hand, and Iran, Russia and Hezbollah, on the other. This does not bode well for anyone. There will be no winners in this show of power.”

Kalin also repeated the Turkish government’s frequent, and so far largely unheeded, calls for the U.S. to withdraw support from the YPG and to ensure the YPG relinquishes its control of the Manbij, a strategically important Syrian city that has been under its control since 2016, much to Turkey’s annoyance.

“The U.S. should start the process of disengaging from the YPG and move it out of Manbij and to east of Euphrates. Turkey and the U.S. forces working with local people can insure the Manbij area. There is a model that has worked for this purpose in the area between Jarablus and al-Ray, cleared from Daesh by Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield, which has no Daesh, no YPG and no regime forces. And it poses no threat to anyone. The same can easily happen in Manbij.”   

Source: https://ahvalnews.com/syria/turkish-
presidents-spokesman-cautions-against-us-long-
term-plans-syria



Turkey proposed Turkish, US troops station together in Syria’s Manbij: Report

16 February

Turkey has proposed to the United States that People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants withdraw to east of the Euphrates River in Syria and that Turkish and U.S. troops be stationed together in the country’s Manbij area, Reuters reported on Feb. 16, citing a Turkish official.

The official, who declined to be identified because the information had not been made public, said the United States was considering the proposal, which was made to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his two-day visit to Ankara, the agency’s report read. 

Tillerson arrived in Turkey on Feb. 15 for two days of what officials have said would likely be uncomfortable discussions between the NATO allies, whose relations have frayed over a number of issues, particularly U.S. support for the YPG, seen as terrorists by Turkey for its links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which the U.S., too, considers a terrorist organization.

Tillerson and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Feb. 15 had a “productive and open” discussion on improving ties, a U.S. State Department spokesman travelling with Tillerson said. Source



U.S.-Turkey crisis exposes Erdogan’s Achilles heel

15 February
A crisis in relations between Turkey and the United States is exposing the Achilles heel of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – his country’s massive current account deficit.

Short-term portfolio inflows, which Turkey relies on to finance the deficit, turned into outflows in the final two months of 2017, the latest balance of payments data show, meaning the central bank was forced to use its own foreign currency reserves to plug the gap.

Political tensions between Ankara and Washington have reached unchartered territory because of a spat over U.S. support for Kurdish militants in Syria, which led to a Turkish invasion of its neighbor last month, and a court case in the United States that exposed an alleged scheme by Turkish bankers and senior government officials to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran.

The drying up of capital inflows “shows the toll that foreign policy tensions are taking on the balance of payments,” said Inan Demir, an emerging markets economist at Nomura in London. “Given that the central bank reserves are not strong, it won’t be possible for the central bank to fund the external deficit if we see a renewed and protracted period of international tensions.”

Data published by the central bank on Wednesday showed that the current account deficit jumped 42 percent to $47.1 billion in 2017, equivalent to 5.6 percent of economic output, the highest among major emerging markets. The gap for December alone was $7.7 billion, the biggest number for a single month since December 2013.

At the same time, $341 million of portfolio investments flowed out of Turkey in November and December combined. The exodus compared with $5.2 billion of inflows in the previous two months, central bank figures showed.

The halt in funds from abroad, coupled with an increase in imports, meant that the central bank was forced to use its foreign currency reserves to fund the current account deficit, to the tune of $4.1 billion in November and $8.6 billion in December.

With the crisis with the United States showing little sign of abating, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Turkey’s capital late on Thursday for talks with top level government officials. He met with Erdoğan for more than three hours at the presidential palace in Ankara, with only Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu in attendance and acting as a translator. There were no statements to the press afterwards.

Earlier in the week, Erdoğan threatened the United States with an “Ottoman slap” unless it vacated the Syrian enclave of Manbij, where U.S. special forces are training and arming Kurdish militants in the fight against Islamic State (ISIS).

Erdoğan has repeatedly threatened an armed confrontation with the United States because of its support for the Kurds. The People’s Protection Units (YPG), trained and supported by Washington as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkey-based militants recognised as terrorist by the U.S. and European Union. Turkey has fought a three-decade war against the autonomy-seeking PKK at the cost of about 40,000 lives, most of them Kurdish, and says the YPG is indistinguishable from the group.

The crisis with the United States and the resultant impact on capital flows comes at a time when Erdoğan, eyeing early elections, is pushing ahead with measures to boost the economy, spurring demand for imports and widening the current account deficit still further.

The deficit "underlines the problems and risks for the Turkish economy,” said Tim Ash, senior emerging markets strategist at BlueBay Asset Management in London. “Higher oil prices are obviously not helping. But in the end one cannot escape the obvious conclusion that the economy is being run at warp speed to get to (early) elections and all Star Trek fans know that that can risk burn out if sustained too long.” Read the full article

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Seizing Syria’s oil real aim behind US Deir Ezzor airstrike

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