In a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday at the White House, five GOP senators presented a united front to mount pressure on Erdogan. During the meeting, the Republican Senators called out Turkey’s purchase of S-400, a Russian Missile Defense System, and strikes on the Syrian Kurdish fighters, deepening the woes between Turkey and Syria.
According to sources, President Trump invited the Republican Senators to join the meeting and present a united front against the possible sanctions on Turkey in the near future. The senators who joined the meet included Lindsey Graham, Rick Scott, Jim Risch, Ted Cruz, and Joni Ernst.
The meeting with the Turkish President mainly focused on Turkey’s increasing friendly relations with Russia and its effect on Turkey’s relations with the NATO allies. The GOP Senators also voiced concerns against the strike by Turkey’s armed force on the Syrian Kurdish fighters and on the possible consequences of those strikes.
Apart from discussing Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400, there were discussions on Turkey’s attempts to quell the political opponents, journalists, and others as well.
During the meeting, Sen. Graham addressed the safety concerns of Turkey from Kurdish fighters as he called for the establishment of a “safe zone”, instead of the unlawful incursions that are responsible for heightened tensions between Syria and Turkey. He even claimed that the Russian S-400 is incompatible as compared to the American F-35.
Graham, who was one of the five GOP Senators present during the meeting, also warned Erdogan of consequences if Turkey does not pay heed to the suggestion of the US and mend its ways.
He said, “Turkey’s activation of the Russian S-400 will require the U.S. to keep Turkey from the F-35 program and issue sanctions. Turkey has been a valuable ally and member of NATO. I’m hoping to salvage this relationship, but only time will tell if that is possible.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also expressed his views on trade relations with Turkey. He even expressed the possibility of improved and better trade relations, which are possible only if Turkey end its strikes against the Syrian Kurdish fighters and recall the purchase of Russian S-400.
On the other hand, the Turkish authorities questioned their US counterparts on extradition policies, referring to the extradition of the Muslim clerk responsible for the failed coup attempt in 2016.
Despite the statements from Margaret Huang, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, Erdogan also denied to take responsibility for the humanitarian crisis created with strikes on Syria.
The meeting between Trump and Erdogan failed to provide any positive result, yet the inclusion of the GOP Senators in the meeting with the Turkish President was a well-thought step by President Trump and his advisers, unlike his recent measures.
This is not for the first time that the US-Turkey relations have been strained. The bilateral relations earlier took a plunge in 2003, which worsened exponentially after the failed government takeover in 2016. And, now with the failed summit, how the situation unfolds for Turkey, remains yet to be seen.