President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed his eagerness to come together with new U.S. President Donald Trump to talk about the Middle East “from A to Z,” stating that any wrong policy to be adopted by Washington would spark even more problems.
“Our Foreign Ministry is working [on a prospective meeting with Trump]. We will discuss all these issues from A to Z at that meeting, because Turkey is the strongest country in the Middle East and is the determiner country [in the region],” Erdoğan told reporters before his departure to Africa on Jan. 22, suggesting that any wrong decision to be adopted by the U.S. on the Middle East “will be not good for the world and humanity.”
He was speaking only two days after Trump took his oath and started his tenure as the 45th president of the U.S. Turkey wants to make a fresh start with Washington under Trump’s administration after a serious row with its long-standing ally mainly over Syria during Barack Obama’s presidency.
The most important agenda will be the Middle East, Erdoğan said, describing the state of the region as “boiling up.”
“We are on the side of respecting the territorial integrity of the Middle East. We are not thinking about dividing up the Middle East, which would not be right and would disrespect the people of the region. Turkey cannot say ‘yes’ to such an idea,” he said. “What will be Trump’s position on the Middle East be? Because the region is boiling now.”
Ankara’s main expectation from Trump is ending its alliance with Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Turkey considers the PYD/YPG as a terrorist organization and as the offshoot of the outlawedKurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkey sent Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to attend the inauguration in Washington, where he contacted prominent figures of the Trump administration including National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
Speaking to reporters, Erdoğan referred to some “disturbing words” coming from Washington but did not go into detail, perhaps referring to Trump’s use of the term “Islamic terrorism,” which Erdoğan has long taken issue with.
Trump used the term in both his inaugural address and his statement during his visit to the CIA on Jan. 21.
“We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth,” Trump said in his inaugural statement.
One other issue that could seriously disturb Turkey would be Trump’s possible decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He recently said he will fulfill his promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem, which many people believe would ignite violent conflict between Israel and Palestine and the wider Arab world.