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News 16 May 17

World Braces for Erdogan's US Visit

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s USA visit is expected to determine Turkish relations with key global and regional powers.

BIRN Team
Istanbul, Ankara, Sarajevo
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: Yasin Bulbul/AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is visiting the US on May 15-17 to discuss several sensitive topics which will shape future relations between Turkey and the US, and subsequently other key regional powers. Turkey’s relations with foreign powers and its domestic situation has shifted in recent months.

Observers expect Erdogan’s visit will shape the crisis in Syria and Turkey’s role in NATO.

The meeting comes amid growing tensions between the US and Turkey, after US President Donald Trump recently decided to start directly supporting the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF-PYD) with heavy artillery as part of the fight against Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

This was a major blow to Erdogan given the fact that Turkey has declared SDF-PYD to be a terrorist organisation, as well as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has been pitted against the government seeking greater Kurdish autonomy for decades.

 PKK is also recognised as a terrorist organisation by the EU and the US.

According to SDF-PYF forces, a massive military campaign will kick off in late June against IS positions in the city of Raqqa – the terror group’s main stronghold in Syria.

Turkey has similarly tense relations with the EU, which has become increasingly critical of Erdogan's continued crackdown of opposition figures in Turkey, leading to suggestions that Turkey's long-stranded EU accession talks could draw to an end.

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