Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should go ahead with his planned trip to Washington on Nov. 13 since the visit will be a blow to Turkey’s enemies in the United States, said Abdülkadir Selvi, a journalist known to have close ties to Turkey’s ruling party, in his column for Hürriyet newspaper on Wednesday.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans for a meeting with Erdoğan in Washington on Nov. 13, after the two countries last month agreed on a ceasefire to halt Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria.
But Erdoğan is under pressure from opposition parties to cancel the visit over a letter Trump sent to Erdoğan hours before Turkey’s started its Syria offensive on Oct. 9.
Trump in his letter warned Erdoğan not be a “tough guy,’’ “devil,’’ and “fool,’’ threatened “to destroy the Turkish economy,” and suggested negotiating with Kurdish commander Mazloum Kobani, who Turkey sees as a terrorist over links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives last week approved a resolution recognising the mass killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire a century ago as genocide, as well as a sanctions bill against Turkey over Ankara’s Syria incursion.
After the House resolutions were passed, the Turkish president said he was unsure whether he would visit Washington, but on Friday he told his party members he would go to and return the letter to Trump.
Selvi said Erdoğan had still been evaluating the pros and cons of visiting Washington.
“I consulted the president about his preparations for the Washington visit. He did not give any indication – he is still evaluating whether to go or not and he is very serious about it,” Selvi quoted a senior Turkish official as telling him.
“We are aware that a group in the United States has been trying to prevent Trump’s meeting with the president. They are afraid that if Erdoğan meets Trump, they may achieve progress over some issues. And we are not ignoring this fact,” the same official said.
Selvi said Turkey should avoid falling into the trap of those who wish to stifle Turkey’s relations with the United States.
“If Erdoğan goes, it will be when he sees that his move will stave off the attempts of those who want to prevent the meeting, and that meeting with Trump will bring favourable results for Turkey,” the columnist said.
The U.S. president has consistently favoured Ankara in past decisions, including his decision to withdraw troops in northeast Syria before Turkey’s offensive last month and in his stance against imposing damaging sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of Russian-built S-400 missile defence systems.