US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had their first telephone conversation after the inauguration of the US President in an attempt for rapprochement in US-Turkey relations.
A few minutes after the conversation which lasted 45 minutes it was announced that the head of the CIA Mike Pompeo will visit Ankara.
The main topic of discussion between the two men were the developments in Syria and the support provided by the US to the Kurds fighting the Islamic State. Ankara considers the Syrian Kurds as terrorists and demands the immediate cessation of military assistance that the US provides them.
Trump seems to have promised to examine Turkey’s request.
The US president reportedly expressed “the support of the United States to Turkey as a strategic partner and NATO ally.” Trump promised a “shared commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms” and added that “the US recognised Turkey’s contribution in the fight against ISIS”.
On Wednesday afternoon spokesman of the Turkish Presidency Ibrahim Kalin announced that Turkish forces in cooperation with the forces of the Free Army of Turkey approached downtown Al Bab which is under the control of ISIS.
On the part of Turkey, Erdogan’s office said that during the phone call the two leaders underlined the close relations between the two countries. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu promised “greater action against the Islamic State in cooperation with the US and Saudi Arabia.”
In Turkey they aspire to a closer relationship with Washington compared to during the Obama administration when the US refused to extradite Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey. Erdogan considers both Gulen responsible for the attempted coup as well as the US attitude to the Kurdish question.
The two leaders discussed the possibility of cooperation in Syria and the establishment of safety zones. Turkey wants to eliminate the possibility of creating a Kurdish state in northern Syria. But would have no objection to the creation of an autonomous Kurdish region in the standards of northern Iraq.
Erdogan knows that increasing the tension between Iran and the US upgrades Turkey’s role in the eyes of the Americans. Pompeo’s visit also includes this factor, but key issues on the agenda of discussion are Syria, Gulen and Russia-Turkey relations which are cause for skepticism in Washington.
Following the telephone conversation between the two leaders, the approval of a loan of $ 400 million, by the World Bank, for the construction of the natural gas pipeline TANAP was announced. The specific pipeline which starts from Baku and ends at the Greek-Turkish border will carry Azeri gas and will be joined by the TAP pipeline that will terminate in Europe.
Within this climate, however, the Turkish government announced the dismissal of 4700 employees on charges of relations with the Islamic Gulen movement and the attempted coup. Among the dismissed there are 330 university professors who had signed the declaration of peace. Further to this 480 employees of the Turkish Foreign Ministry were also laid off, causing huge gaps in the diplomatic corps of the neighbouring country.
To this day there have been about 140,000 employees dismissed from the Turkish public sector while 40,000 Turkish citizens have been imprisoned.
On Wednesday a member of the pro-Kurdish party HDP Leyla Zana was arrested charged with having connections with terrorist organizations. She was ater released on bail. The chairman of the HDP Selahattin Demirtas has been in prison for the past four months./IBNA