The meaning of President Erdoğan's US trip

Published 08.11.2019 18:42
Updated 09.11.2019 00:39

The obscurity is gone, and the meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his U.S.' counterpart President Donald Trump will take place on Nov. 13 in Washington.

On Wednesday, the two leaders had a fruitful phone conversation that opened the door for the meeting. After President Trump said he had a "very good call" with Erdoğan, the Turkish Presidency said that Erdoğan will continue with his planned trip to the U.S. next week.

The trip was uncertain amid tension between the two partners concerning a letter that lacked diplomatic courtesy written by President Trump to President Erdoğan, in which the U.S. leader threatened Turkey over a possible military operation in Syria. There were also tensions concerning the U.S.' support of ringleaders in the PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG).

The Erdoğan administration responded to this letter by commencing Operation Peace Spring. The operation succeeded in pushing YPG elements away from the Turkish border in the intended area, and Turkey agreed with Russia and the U.S. on a timetable for a safe zone.

It should be noted that Turkey was heavily criticized by some global powers over this operation. The operation's intention was to clear the zone of terror elements. Ankara's only target was terrorists, but the YPG tried to portray it as a military invasion against the Kurdish population in an attempt to manipulate the West.

Turkey under the leadership of Erdoğan has never nor will it ever target Kurdish civilians. That would be contrary to President Erdoğan's policies and paradigm. I am a columnist struggling for equal rights for Kurds and Turks and have always been critical of the status quo, but it is President Erdoğan himself who legalized the Kurdish language in schools and made it possible to open Kurdish boards on universities.

So, the positive phone conversation between Trump and Erdoğan confirmed the visit next week, which I think is a good decision for both sides. Turkey is and has always been an important partner for the U.S.

The U.S. needs good dialogue with Ankara, especially with Syria being restructured and Russia holding a prime seat at the table.

For Turkey, it is a good decision as well since multifaceted foreign policy is a strong asset. It is a country with good relations with the West, and I believe these relations should be maintained. Turkey gains strength by maintaining its relations with the West and East simultaneously.

It of course does not mean obedience. Turkey should have good relations, but it should be able to make its own decisions according to its own interests. That is what President Erdoğan does now. His reply to the unacceptable letter was acting according to his interests and setting up his own plan in Syria – and he got the results he wanted.

He also demonstrated Turkey's struggle against terror by capturing the wife and sister of slain Daesh terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This is a big achievement against Daesh. Turkey has been the biggest victim of Daesh terror and is fighting strongly against it. I think there will be more cooperation between Washington and Ankara in combating terrorism, and the details for this are expected to be discussed during the Nov. 13 meeting.

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