Turkish military, intelligence chiefs in Washington to discuss Kurds

The “impression” they get from US officials would shape the files Erdogan plans to talk about with President Donald Trump.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – A delegation of Turkey’s top military and intelligence leaders on Friday flew to Washington to meet with American officials ahead of an upcoming US visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar, Head of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Hakan Fidan, and Erdogan’s spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin lead the delegation, said Kurdistan24’s Ankara bureau.

The major Hurriyet newspaper said the trio close to Erdogan in DC would “specifically try to dissuade” Americans from partnering with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG)-led forces in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

Turkey calls the US-allied YPG a “terrorist” group for having ties with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Fidan was instrumentally involved in the eventually failed peace talks that secretly began in 2009 with the PKK which wages a four-decades-long guerrilla warfare against the Turkish army for larger Kurdish rights.

It was not clear who the Turks would meet in Washington during the trip.

But, the “impression” they get from US officials would shape the files Erdogan plans to talk about with President Donald Trump in their first White House meeting on May 16, wrote the paper.

Erdogan is particularly distraught with the Trump administration’s deepening support for the YPG and its surrogate multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria, which Kurds call Rojava.

Since, and even before, the swearing-in of Trump, Turkish leaders have employed a rhetoric courting the new administration, while blaming US backing of Syrian Kurds, which began in late 2014, on former President Barack Obama.

In March, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed Pentagon generals could “misinform” Trump about the Syrian Kurds.

Erdogan last week demanded to know why US flags were flying in the same military convoy with “YPG rags” along the Turkey-Syria border.

He added the pictures showing US soldiers and Kurdish fighters together “saddened” him.

Erdogan said he would show the pictures to Trump.

“If we are jointly against international terrorism, we will say what is this [US-YPG pictures],” said Erdogan.

As the Erdogan-Trump meeting approached, a chief aide to the Turkish President Ilnur Cevik on Wednesday threatened to hit US forces deployed with the Kurds.

He later walked back from those remarks which he gave to an Istanbul-based radio station, as the Pentagon denounced his threats as “irresponsible and unacceptable.”


Editing by Karzan Sulaivany