President Donald Trump has accepted an invitation by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to visit Turkey, a spokesperson for Erdogan announced Monday. The White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley announced later on Monday that Trump is, indeed, “open to a potential meeting in the future” with his Turkish counterpart, but noted that “nothing definite is being planned.”
Trump announced last week, after a phone call with Erdogan on Dec. 14, that he would withdraw the entire US military presence—about 2,000 troops altogether—from Syria.
Turkey’s official news agency Anadolu reported with admirable frankness that the American withdrawal “comes on the eve of a possible Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria against the YPG/PKK terrorist group,” meaning many a Kurdish head would roll at the dawn of the new year.
On Sunday, President Trump tweeted: “I just had a long and productive call with President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey. We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area. After many years they are coming home. We also discussed heavily expanded Trade.”
Later the same day, Trump tweeted: “President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey has very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria. … and he is a man who can do it plus, Turkey is right ‘next door.’ Our troops are coming home!”
Departing US Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) echoed many Republicans in Washington when he told CNN on Sunday: “I’m saddened for the many Kurds and others that likely will be — will be killed and slaughtered by the Syrians or the Turks.”
This week, President Trump’s other friend in the Middle East, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called President Erdogan an “anti-Semitic dictator.”
“He has an obsession with Israel,” Netanyahu said, in a renewed round of his ongoing feud with the Turkish leader. He added, in response to Erdogan’s rolling prose regarding the IDF slaughtering women and children in Gaza, that his nemesis “knows what a moral army is and he knows what a genuine democracy is, as opposed to an army that massacres women and children in Kurdish villages and a state, which, to my regret, is becoming more dictatorial day by day.”