The new Turkey
Turkey - US relations June 2018

22-Jun-2018

 
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21 June 2018 - State Dept budget vows to block F-35 transfers to Turkey, following Defence budget

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen has announced an amendment in the Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations Act calling a halt to the pending delivery of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Turkey.

Senator Hollen's amendment says unless Turkey gives up on purchasing S-400 Russian missile defense system, F-35s will not go Turkey.

Following this development, both the Defence Department and the State Department budgets have provisions prohibiting the F-35s transfers to Turkey in one way or another. 

Last week the NDAA passed at the Senate floor brought the U.S. Congress an inch closer to producing a final bill containing provisions to halt the transfer of F-35s to Turkey, at least temporarily. While the NDAA halts all type of weapons, including F-35s until the Pentagon produces a report in 60 days, Hollen's State Department budget's provision halts the transfer of F-35s altogether until the Erdoğan government changes its stated policy of purchasing the Russian missile system.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Turkey received its first F-35 at a ceremony in Texas. However, according to Turkish Foreign Minister, Turkish pilots will be trained until 2020 before taking the jets back to Turkey. CNN reported that Turkey will technically take ownership of the warplanes on Thursday, but the US will retain custody of the jets while Turkish pilots and maintainers are being trained on the new planes at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. 

Since Van Hollen has secured an amendment to halt the transfer of F-35 for the State Department's budget unless Turkısh President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan changes his mind about the Russian system, it is unclear if these jets will ever leave U.S. territory. 

Turkish officials have made it clear that the purchase of S-400 Russian missile system is a done deal and irreversible. 

"The concern is that the F-35 is the most advanced aircraft, the most advanced NATO aircraft, and if Turkey goes forward with the acquisition of the S-400, it will allow the Russians to collect information on how to best attack an F-35 fighter," Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat and one of the amendment's co-sponsors, told CNN.

"It's totally nuts to hand the Russian the keys to the mission capabilities of the F-35 and allow them to try to detect and then exploit any vulnerabilities," he added.

The amendment, which passed with bipartisan support in Committee, was sponsored by Chairman of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.). The amendment makes it prohibited "to transfer, or facilitate the transfer, of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Turkey until the Secretary of State certifies that Turkey isn’t purchasing and won’t accept deliveries of the Russian S-400 missile defense system."

 Van Hollen said in a press release, "senior defense officials have said that if Turkey operates both the F-35 and the S-400, it could compromise the F-35’s security, including the aircraft’s stealth capabilities, and represent a strategic threat to the United States. It would also compromise the security of our allies and stand in clear violation of the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act. This new legislative language goes a step further than the National Defense Authorization Act that the Senate passed this week, which restricts funding on the transfer of F-35 aircrafts to Turkey until the Secretary of Defense issues a report on removing Turkey from the F-35 program."

The text of the F-35 amendment follows, quoted from Senator Van Hollen's press release:

(d) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs, may be made available to transfer, or to facilitate the transfer of, F–35 aircraft to Turkey, including any defense articles or services related to such aircraft, until the Secretary of State certifies to the appropriate congressional committees that the Government of Turkey is not purchasing the S-400 missile defense system from Russia and will not accept the delivery of such system.

Not later than 30 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees that includes:  (1) a determination whether the Government of Turkey has made payments to Russia for the purchase of the S-400 missile defense system; (2) the number of such systems the Government of Turkey expects to purchase; (3) the anticipated delivery schedule for such system; (4) the dollar value of such systems the Government of Turkey is expected to purchase, and an analysis of the financing for the purchase (including self-financing or financing by loans from Russia or other sources); (5) a description of the measures the Secretary has taken to dissuade the Government of Turkey from purchasing such system, and a description of measures taken to encourage the purchase of an alternative system; and (6) an assessment of how the operation of the S-400 missile defense system and F–35 aircraft together would impact the security of the F–35 aircraft.  The report required under this subsection shall be submitted in unclassified form but may contain a classified annex, as necessary.

 
19 June 2018 - Ankara slams US Senate decision to block F-35 sales to Turkey

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on June 19 harshly criticized a U.S. Senate decision to block F-35 sales to Turkey.

“The decision is an unfortunate development,” Yıldırım told reporters.

“Turkey is not without alternatives. Such attempts are regrettable and goes against the soul of strategic partnership,” the prime minister said.

Yıldırım’s comments came after the U.S. Senate on June 18 passed a $716 billion defense policy bill including an amendment prohibiting sales to Turkey of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin Corp.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 85-10 for the annual National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which authorizes U.S. military spending but is generally used as a vehicle for a broad range of policy matters.

According to the NDAA, U.S. President Donald Trump should certify that Turkey does not threaten NATO, purchase defense equipment from Russia or detain U.S. citizens.

Senators included the legislation because of the imprisonment of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey’s Aegean province of İzmir on terror charges and Turkish government’s decision to purchase S-400 air defense system from Russia.

The amendment claimed that purchasing the S-400 system from Russia increases tensions and risks to the NATO alliance.

The U.S. Defense Ministry is supposed to prepare a report on relations with Turkey in 60 days. Any sales of F-35 and F-16 fighters, Patriot air defense systems, and military helicopters by Pentagon to Turkey will be blocked until the report is submitted to the Congress committees.

Criticizing the U.S. for trying to force Turkey not to purchase the S-400 air defense system from Russia, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on June 4 recalled that Turkeyhad been trying to purchase the Patriot air defense system from the U.S., but the missiles have never been sold to Turkey when they were needed the most.

“This is the reason why Turkey, which is in urgent need of these weapons, has chosen to purchase them from Russia,” he added during his visit to Washington.

Touching upon the F-35 fighter jets, Çavuşoğlu also emphasized that if Washington, as the worst-case scenario, decides not to sell F-35s to Turkey, then no one can tell Turkey not to buy aircraft from a second country or not to produce its own.

According to the F-35 project agreement, the first two F-35s must be handed over to Turkeyin the U.S. by June 21 for training and testing purposes.

$639 billion in base defense spending

Before the Senate bill can become law, it must be reconciled with one already passed by the House of Representatives. That compromise measure must then be passed by both chambers and signed into law by Trump.

Considered must-pass legislation, the fiscal 2019 Senate version of the NDAA authorizes $639 billion in base defense spending, for such things as buying weapons, ships and aircraft and paying the troops, with an additional $69 billion to fund ongoing conflicts.

The measure also includes an amendment to bar the U.S. military from providing aerial refueling support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen unless U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo certifies that Saudi Arabia is taking urgent steps to end the civil war in Yemen, ease the humanitarian crisis there and reduce the risk to civilians.

It also overrules the White House deal with Chinese telecom firm ZTE and re-imposes a ban on hi-tech chip sales to the company. Source

 
18 June 2018 - Turkish forces will not enter Manbij city - Pentagon

Turkish troops and Turkish-backed rebels will not move into the Manbij city, though U.S. and Turkish forces began patrolling along the demarcation line north of Manbij with coordinated independent patrol activities on Jun. 18, the U.S. Department of Defense has revealed to Ahval.

Manbij is a flashpoint city in northern Syria and has been a matter of contention between Washington and Ankara since 2016, when Syrian-Kurdish Forces dominated by the People's Protection Units (YPG) captured the city from Islamic State militants.

Turkey labels the YPG as a terrorist organization and extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which began an armed struggle against the Turkish state in 1984 in pursuit of Kurdish independence. The organisation has evolved over decades and in the recent past gave up its separatist agenda to instead fight for autonomy for Turkey's Kurdish minority. 

Earlier on Monday, the Turkish Armed Forces issued a statement to confirm many social media reports that the U.S. and Turkish military forces, in accordance with the Manbj Roadmap and Manbij Securty Principles, had begun patrolling near Manbij. 

Department of Defence spokesman Eric Pahon, in an exclusive statement to Ahval, said "(t)he patrols are taking place outside of Manbij, along the northern demarcation line," but Turkish troops will not move into the city.

Pahon gave the same answer when asked if Turkish-backed rebels would move into the city.

"The patrols are part of the ongoing process to de-escalate current tensions along the demarcation line between the Manbij Military Council and the Syrian opposition north of Manbij," Pahon said. "These patrols support our commitment to long-term security and stability in Manbij, and the U.S. commitment to addressing security concerns of NATO ally Turkey."

An SDF official said in an earlier Ahval report by Wladimir Van Wilgenburg that the Manbij Military Council (MMC) would remain in control of Manbij, and not the Turkish army.

The mutli-ethnic MMC was set up by forces including the Syrian Democratic Forces, affiliates of the YPG, as the military administration of the region on its liberation from the Islamic State.

Pahon confirmed to Ahval what the SDF official told earlier, said, "that is correct" that the MMC will continue controlling Manbij city. 

In the same report by Wilgenburg, SDF officials confirmed to Ahval that the Turkish forces had not entered and the territory was still under MMC control.

Turkish officials have stressed for months that the Manbij agreement will be a blueprint for the future of the region. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has claimed that Turkey and the United States will make similar agreements to clear Kurdish forces from Raqqa, Kobane and other Syrian cities.

Asked if this is the understanding of the Pentagon, Pahon said, "The U.S. anticipates a return to representative governance representative of local populations," and added that the State Department is the more appropriate place to ask this question. One senior official from the State Department told Ahval last week that they have not heard of such a plan before.

Pahon said, contrary to the some comments, starting the Manbij patrol in Turkey's election week ahead of June 24 has nothing to do with politics, added, "The two events are unrelated.  The U.S. and Turkey have been working toward resolution in Manbij for quite some time." Source

 
16 June 2018 - 44 members of US Congress urge Mattis to halt F-35 delivery to Turkey

It would be “inconceivable” for the United States to go through with a deal supplying advanced F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, 44 members of the US House of Representatives warned in a letter on Friday to Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States and a low level partner in the jet’s production, is set to receive the first of 100 of the jets on order at a rollout ceremony in the United States scheduled for June 21.

However, the deal has met with intense resistance from Congress, both houses of which have produced bipartisan legislation to curtail US weapons sales to Turkey in reprisal for a growing list of problems souring the countries’ relations.

The Senate is expected to vote on a bill to suspend all weapons sales to Turkey before the July 4 holiday; since the first F-35 could be delivered before then, the letter can be seen as an urgent call to Mattis to stop the deal.

“Contrary to its NATO obligations and the expectations that should govern a responsible ally, Turkey is actively operating to undermine US interests around the world,” the signatories of the letter said.

The bipartisan group of congressmen referred to Turkey’s tightening links with Russia, illustrated by Ankara’s purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system, and its policies in Syria, which have led to threats by the Turkish president against US forces.

Particularly concerning is the S-400 purchase, which the letter said would “threaten exposure of our most closely guarded military secrets to a major power hostile to NATO and U.S. interests.”

“It is inconceivable that we would place the F-35 technology in the hands of the deepening Russian-Turkish relationship,” it continued.

Other incidents raised in the letter include the arrest of US pastor Andrew Brunson, a long-term resident in Turkey accused of links to terrorist organizations, and the violence exhibited by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s security detail during a state visit to Washington, DC.

“The brazenness of this assault and Turkey’s refusal to cooperate with the subsequent investigation demonstrates the level of contempt President Erdogan has for the United States and for our democratic values and exposes Turkey as a practitioner and exporter of extreme, violent authoritarianism,” the letter said.

In reference to a witch hunt being pursued against the faith-based Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government and President Erdoğan of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016, an allegation strongly denied by the movement, the congressmen said: “Since the coup, Turkey has arbitrarily arrested 160,000 of its own citizens and fired approximately the same number of civil servants.

These arrests amount to collective punishment, as Erdogan targets not just critics of his despotic regime but their families as well; more than 600 children are currently imprisoned in Turkey. Arbitrary detention and sham trials are hallmarks of authoritarianism. These mass firings and arrests of journalists, academics, civil servants, judges, and others are designed to intimidate any opposition to Erdogan and chill the freedoms that are the pillars of any free society.”

Urging Mattis to halt the planned delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, the representatives said, “We must hold Turkey accountable for conduct that threatens U.S. national security, undermines the interests of our partners and allies, and represents a broadside attack against fundamental democratic values.” Source

 
15 June 2018 - Immediately scrap F-35 sale to Turkey, congresspeople urge Mattis

It would be “inconceivable” for the United States to go through with a deal supplying advanced F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, 44 members of the House of Representatives have warned in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States and a low level partner in the jet’s production, is set to receive the first of 100 of the jets on order at a rollout ceremony in the United States scheduled for Jun. 21.

However, the deal has met with intense resistance from congress, both houses of which have produced bipartisan motions to curtail U.S. weapons sales to Turkey as a reprisal for a growing list of problems souring the countries’ relations.

The senate is expected to vote on a bill to suspend all weapons sales to Turkey before the July 4 holiday period; since the first F-35s could be delivered before then, the letter can be seen as an urgent call to Mattis to stop the deal.

“Contrary to its NATO obligations and the expectations that should govern a responsible ally, Turkey is actively operating to undermine US interests around the world,” the signatories of the letter said.

letter

The bipartisan group of congresspeople referred to Turkey’s tightening links with Russia, illustrated by Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence systems, and to its policies in Syria, which have led to threats by the Turkish president against U.S. forces.

Particularly concerning is the S-400 purchase, which the letter said would “threaten exposure of our most closely guarded military secrets to a major power hostile to NATO and U.S. interests.”

“It is inconceivable that we would place the F-35 technology in the hands of the deepening Russian-Turkish relationship,” it continued.

Other incidents raised in the letter include the arrest of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, a long-term resident in Turkey accused of links to terrorist organisations, and the violence from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s security detail during a state visit to Washington DC.

congress letter

“The brazenness of this assault and Turkey's refusal to cooperate with the subsequent investigation demonstrates the level of contempt President Erdogan has for the United States and for our democratic values and exposes Turkey as a practitioner and exporter of extreme, violent authoritarianism,” the letter said.

“We must hold Turkey accountable for conduct that threatens U.S. national security, undermines the interests of our partners and allies, and represents a broadside attack against fundamental democratic values,” it continued, urging Mattis to halt the planned delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.

letter congress

 

U.S. senator introduces bill for sanctions against Turkey

U.S Senator and Helsinki Commission Chairman Roger Wicker introduced a bipartisan resolution on June 12 urging President Donald Trump to take action against seven countries, including Turkey, for what it described as violations of religious freedom. 

“Our founding fathers made religious freedom a cornerstone of our country, and President Trump carries that legacy forward by making religious freedom a cornerstone of his presidency. This resolution is a blueprint for action in a region where governments have often attacked religious freedom instead of protecting it. When governments take steps toward improvement, as Uzbekistan has done, we should support and bolster their efforts,” said Wicker.

“Designate Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkey as ‘Special Watch List Countries’ for severe violations of religious freedom, and designate Kazakhstan if it continues to tighten restrictions on religious freedom,” resolution 539 read, calling for sanctioning Turkish officials responsible for the imprisonment of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who has been jailed in Turkey since October 2016.

The resolution also calls for the re-designation of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as “Countries of Particular Concern,” calling to block entry to the United States and impose financial sanctions on individual violators in all seven countries, as well as Russian-led separatist forces in Ukraine.

Helsinki Commissioner Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH) is the lead co-sponsor of the resolution. Other original co-sponsors of S.Res.539 include Helsinki Commissioners Sen. Thom Tillis (NC), Sen. John Boozman (AR), and Sen. Cory Gardner (CO), along with Sen. James Lankford (OK). Source

 
8 June 2018 - Turkey set to open anti-dumping probes into US companies: Minister

Turkey will open anti-dumping investigations into U.S. companies in the wake of new U.S. import tariffs on steel and aluminum in a retaliatory move, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci has said.

“However the U.S. looks at our products, we will look at their products in the same way. We will launch key processes within a few days,” Zeybekci said at a meeting in the Aegean province of Denizli on June 7.

He said large U.S. companies received major support from the government.

“We are working on the process of beginning anti-dumping investigations against these companies,” Zeybekci added.

U.S. President Donald Trump imposed import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent for aluminum in March.

In April, Zeybekci sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross seeking an exemption from the new tariffs, a Turkish official said at the time.

Turkey is the world’s eighth-largest steel producer and the sixth-largest exporter to the United States.

Ankara is also set to take measures against the United States over its decision to impose tariffs by June 21. In an application document to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on May 22, Turkey announced the items would be included on the country’s countermeasure list worth $266.5 million.

The countermeasures include additional duties on the imports of 22 U.S. items including coal, paper, walnuts/almonds, tobacco, unprocessed rice, whiskey, automobiles, cosmetics, machinery and equipment, and petrochemical products. Source

 
7 June 2018 - Don’t use S-400s even if you buy them, US tells Turkey

Turkey and the United States recently took an important step in the right direction by endorsing the road map for Syria’s Manbij province that will lead to the withdrawal of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) at a meeting between Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington. 

Although it is regarded as a positive development for the normalization of ties, there are still some very important pending disputes between the two long-standing allies, including Turkey’s procurement of S-400s from Russia. 

Senior Turkish and American officials have been in close dialogue and negotiations to overcome the troubled waters on ties for some time, with a special emphasis on two main issues: S-400s and the Manbij process. 

Speaking to diplomatic sources who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issues, the Hürriyet Daily News has obtained important background information about closed-door talks between the two countries on these key matters. They have engaged in hectic diplomacy in the last few months at almost every level, with the last one being between Çavuşoğlu and Pompeo on June 4.  

One track of this Turkish-American diplomacy was focused on Turkey’s bid to augment its air defense with the sophisticated Russian-made S-400 anti-ballistic missile systems. The U.S. has long been against this procurement for three main reasons. 

First, it is against NATO’s plans to further isolate and deter Russia. A bill legislated at the U.S. Congress in 2017 imposes sanctions on countries and companies who engage in contracts to purchase Russian weaponry. Second, there are concerns that this deployment would endanger the flights of NATO aircrafts, particularly F-35s that are also on Turkey’s procurement plans from the U.S. Third, there are trade concerns that prioritize the sale of U.S.-made Patriot air defense systems to Turkey and other allies. 

Sanctions will be retaliated 

Talks between Ankara and Washington on S-400s were therefore shaped around these three concerns. The main U.S. demand from its ally was the cancellation of the purchase of S-400s on the grounds that it could trigger sanctions on Turkey. Turkish officials firmly rejected this call, stressing that these systems will be bought and deployed because Turkeyneeds them. 

“All countries surrounding us have missile systems. Imagine if, for example, relations with Iran deteriorate over Syria and they launch missiles on us. How Turkey will be able to protect itself?” was the question posed to American officials. 

They also denounced threats imposed on Turkey, making clear that “any sanctions on Turkey will not be left unanswered.” 

Following Turkey’s firm stance on the purchase of these systems, U.S. officials hinted that “Turkey should not use the S-400s even if it does buy them from Russia,” while Turkish diplomatic sources said this was not a realistic expectation.   

‘Let’s work together’ 

Having dismissed calls for the cancellation, Turkey suggested joint work with the U.S. to look into potential consequences of the deployment of S-400s and to address U.S. concerns on the safety of NATO aircrafts. 

In talks with U.S. officials, Turkey made clear its sensitivity in not putting NATO allies’ aircrafts in danger through the weapon systems it acquires from non-NATO sources. They also stress that it has not opted for a nine-month quick delivery option offered by Russia. 

“If we had accepted a nine-month delivery option then we would have no control on the use of S-400s. They would be used only by Russian experts, as national softwTurkeyare would not be ready to be uploaded. Instead, we have chosen the 19-month option so that we could prepare our technical works and use them under fully Turkish control. We are very sensitive on this,” officials stated.  

Trump offers Patriots

The third aspect of Turkish-American conversations was about the latter’s revisited attempts to sell Patriot air defense systems to Turkey in place of the S-400s. 

U.S. President Donald Trump was as direct as possible in trying to convince President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that the U.S. was ready to sell Patriots right away, after his counterpart complaint that previous administrations introduced difficulties in front of  on this purchase. In talks on Patriots, Turkey said it could consider procuring these systems from the U.S. on the condition that the administration could assure congressional approval.  

Three-stage road map for Manbij 

The second main topic between Turkey and the U.S. was the Manbij road map. Talks had been delayed due to the replacement of Rex Tillerson by Mike Pompeo as secretary of state. However, diplomatic sources underline that the road map endorsed on June 4 between Pompeo and Çavuşoğlu was not much different the version agreed with Tillerson. 

The road map reportedly consists of three stages starting from June 4: In the first 10 days, both countries’ experts, officers, and intelligence institutions will conduct initial preparations for the implementation of the road map. From the 11th to the 30th day, preparatory talks will be held to shape the modalities of the withdrawal of YPG troops from the province as well as on how the security of the city will be provided. On the 31st day, in early July, the withdrawal will begin and the entire process will be terminated within 90 days after June 4. This includes the establishment of a local government. 

US sought delay on YPG pull back 

Diplomatic sources told that U.S. wanted a six-month withdrawal process instead of three months. But this proposal has not been accepted by Turkey as it could undermine the road map. Another demand from the U.S. was to introduce this road map to the relevant bodies for its ratification. Turkey has opposed this amid concerns that congressional approval could never come and therefore the road map would never be implemented.   

One important question was about the motives of the U.S. in endorsing this road map, despite the expectation that its cooperation with the YPG will continue afterwards. According to sources, there are two main drivers behind the endorsement. The first was about a growing concern in the Washington that the U.S. has been losing its main ally in the region. Sources recalled that Turkey made clear its counterpart that ties risk to be broken if U.S. continues its support to the YPG. This message has found its place, they stress. 

The second is more important. Many U.S. officials, including President Trump, were very concerned about the possibility of an armed conflict with Turkey because of the situation in Manbij. Sources said Trump raised this concern in one of his conversations with Erdoğan, who told him that Turkey was primarily concerned with YPG militants rather than U.S. troops. Source

 

4 June 2018 - Turkey, US endorse Syria road map

Turkey and the United States have endorsed a road map over the withdrawal of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Manbij province of Syria after months-long negotiations, the Turkish foreign ministry announced after the meeting between two sides’ foreign ministers in Washington on June 4.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in their first encounter in Washington D.C. to primarily finalize a joint work to end a bilateral dispute over the presence of the YPG troops in Manbij.

“They considered the recommendations of the Turkey-U.S. Working Group on Syria pertaining to the future of our bilateral cooperation in Syria on issues of mutual interest, to include taking steps to ensure the security and stability in Manbij. They endorsed a Road Map to this end and underlined their mutual commitment to its implementation, reflecting their agreement to closely follow developments on the ground,” read joint statement issued following the meeting on June 4.

It did not unveil details of the road map but it’s believed that it stipulates the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij and the joint control of the city by Turkish and American troops. The road map includes a certain timeline that suggests the withdrawal of the YPG within 30 days after the beginning of the implementation of this road map.

Turkey has long been calling its NATO ally to let the YPG remove its troops from Manbijdue to the city’s strategic location for Turkey’s security.

The statement underlined the reaffirmation by Turkey and the U.S. to “remain committed to addressing their common concerns in a spirit of allied partnership.”

The two ministers exchanged views on bilateral and regional issues and reaffirmed their joint resolve to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, it said.

“Minister Çavuşoğlu and Secretary Pompeo also discussed Turkey-U.S. relations and agreed to hold further meetings of the working group mechanism to resolve current outstanding issues in the bilateral relationship. An initial session of the Working Group on Judicial and Other Issues took place immediately after the meeting of the Minister and the Secretary,” read the joint statement. Source

3 June 2018 - Turkish-US alliance is breaking up - expert

Even if Turkey and the United States agree on a road map for Manbij in northern Syria, the alliance between two countries is in tatters, Dr. Simon Waldman, an expert on Turkey, told Deutsche Well Turkish on Sunday.

The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will meet his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo on June 4 in Washington to discuss a roadmap for Manbij, a Syrian town under the control of U.S. backed Kurdish forces. 

Turkey has long threatened to take action against Kurdish groups in Syria that it considers terrorist organisations due to their links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a bloody insurgency in Turkey for decades. On Jan. 20, Turkish armed forces, along with Free Syrian Army, launched a military campaign against Kurdish forces and seized the control of the Afrin city in northwest Syria after a two-month military operation. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly stressed that the operation would expand to the east to include cities such as Manbij, where there is U.S. military presence alongside with the Kurdish forces.

Turkey and the United States have been trying to resolve the dispute over Manbij through working groups established in February, after Pompeo's predecessor, Rex Tillerson visited Turkey.

On May 25, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy told reporters that the working group met in Ankara to review a drafted road map for the withdrawal of the Kurdish forces from Manbij and for joint control of the city by Turkish and American forces.

According to Waldman, the alliance between to countries have been tattering, as there are huge differences between two countries in terms of their strategic interests and threat perceptions.

“The most likely agreement Turkey will hope for is the establishment of some mechanism for the future of Manbij,” Walman said, adding that this mechanism will probably include the withdrawal of Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the area. “This is the only possible scenario the two sides can agree on, which the United States can accept and which Turkey would like to present as a victory. However, given the deep crises of trust between the two countries, it is obvious that talking about such an agreement is easy, but putting it into practice is difficult,” Waldman added. 

Waldman noted that YPG is a critical ally for the United States in its struggle against the Islamist State and Washington will obviously take into account creating uneasiness among Kurds as a result of an agreement with Turkey.

According to Waldman, Turkey sees the establishment of a Kurdish administration in northern Syria as a national security threat, however, in his view, a new Kurdish state would prioritise providing its citizens basic services, rather than fighting with Turkey.

“Only a few years ago, there was the peace process, but Turkey and PKK and its extensions in Syria are now the greatest enemies. Things change so rapidly in Turkey, and this rapid change makes it difficult to work on Turkey’s security policies. The Europeans and the United States would like to know where Turkey stands, sudden shifts in security policies severely strains the dialogue on security issues,” he said.

“According to me the alliance is breaking up. This relationship was based on a security logic in which Turkey, which has an important geographical location and a strong army, defined a common enemy with the United States”, Waldman added, noting that Turkey now tries to diversify its alliances in the region. In his view, even though Turkey and the United States continue diplomatic negotiations,  the two countries will fail in re-establishing the previous partnership based on trust. Source

 
2 June 2018 - Erdoğan urged US to deliver F-35 fighter jets

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday once again urged the United States to remain committed to a deal on the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, Milliyet newspaper reported 

"We say that the US is our strategic partner. But a strategic partner should not offer us to knock on other doors. We are not interested in what the Senate said. We are only interested in one thing [the delivery of F35s], "Erdogan said during a television program. 

Erdoğan reminded that the delivery of F-35s had been agreed on during negotiations with the U.S. president Donald Trump. "If we are strategic partners, then the United States should not make any legal mistakes in this issue," Erdogan added.

The United States is set to deliver the first of 100 new F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, in spite of a U.S. Congress bill calling for a halt in weapons sales due to faltering relations between the two countries. Source 

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