Erdogan visits Trump, amid much friction between US, Turkey

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Too exuberant in its support for the Kurds, and the US risks pushing ally Turkey toward USA geopolitical rivals like Russian Federation or emboldening the Kurds to try to create an independent state — a scenario that would destabilize multiple countries in the region.

The move comes after U.S. President Donald Trump gave his authorization to equip the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, the SDF's most powerful element, to help in the Raqqa assault.

Ernst, a veteran of the Iraq war, has long argued the US should arm Kurdish fighters known as the Peshmerga in Iraq. This order changes that, and in so doing, broadens and deepens the relationship of the USA military with the SDF in a way that cuts Turkey out of the battle for Raqqa, and subsequent battles to come against ISIS throughout eastern Syria. Although President Erdoğan described his upcoming visit to Washington as a "milestone" in diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Trump administration's decision to arm the PYD/YPG with heavy weaponry is drawing ire from Turkish officials.

"The Turks see this as a crisis in the relationship", said Jonathan Schanzer at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Trump has made his priorities clear. Despite Turkey's claims that "the war on terror" should include the fight against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the YPG, none of the global actors recognize the YPG as a terrorist organization.

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US -backed Kurdish-led Syrian forces are advancing toward Raqqa after capturing several nearby towns and villages recently. According to Ankara, when the military power and skills of the coalition are obvious, the USA arming of the YPG is very hard to explain as a tactical step against Raqqa and ISIL.

And then there's the thorny issue of Fethullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania-based cleric who Erdogan accuses of orchestrating the last year's failed coup.

The Turkish Government considers the YPG to be an integral part of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), which both the USA and Turkey designate a terrorist organization.

Finally, Trump treats Erdogan like a fellow victor, someone who deserves to be at the head table with the other winners.

This order needs to be assessed in the context that for the better part of two-and-a-half years, U.S. Special Forces have been networking with, training and fighting beside Kurdish SDF in the field. Kurds make up a fifth of Turkey's population. Last month, he called to congratulate Erdogan on winning a referendum, widely criticized by other USA allies, that vastly increased presidential power in Turkey. Washington is concerned by rising anti-Americanism in Turkey that Erdogan's government has tolerated since the July coup attempt.

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Some senior Turkish officials last week said the USA policy toward the YPG amounted to support for terrorism, putting the government on an apparent collision course with Trump ahead of Erdogan's meeting.

Now, the American leader may try to cash in. "I think ultimately a formula will be found". If Erdogan can accept that his expectations cannot be realized because of the constraints of USA law and national security interests but that he will be treated as an equal and there will be no interference or even harsh commentary regarding his domestic policies, these two birds of a feather should flock together for the mutual benefit of their respective national security interests.

It is likely that the US's arming of Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) will likely be one of the most contentious issues on the agenda - especially if the Trump administration proves unwilling to revise its policy. Later, Turkey's air attacks on Syrian and Iraqi Kurdish militia positions were declared illegitimate.

"In the case of Gulen, the USA needs to be clear in terms of what it can and cannot do", said Aydintasbas and Kirisci.

"That would be a very good start", Aydin said.

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