Trump and Erdogan to work toward finding Syria consensus

President Donald Trump will sit down with face to face with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday - and it's likely to be awkward.

Trump's willingness to partner with authoritarian rulers and overlook their shortcomings on democracy and human rights has alarmed US lawmakers of both parties.

Mr Erdogan last month narrowly won a referendum to implement an executive presidency from November 2019, axing the role of prime minister and empowering the president to appoint ministers.

Judging by the public statements, U.S. -Turkey relations are going to be just fine. Erdogan accelerated efforts to assert full control over the institutions of state after a failed July 2016 military coup against him. Will it be conciliatory, said the U.S.is trying to take steps?

Erdogan is also expected to discuss the issue of the US arming the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), considered by Turkey as an affiliate of the PKK terrorist organization.

Both Turkey and the United States have backed rebels in Syria during the six-year war against President Bashar al-Assad's forces and allies.

Earlier this month Turkey, Russia and Iran agreed to work together as guarantors of "safe zones" in Syria, excluding any US involvement.

Trump and Erdogan will also probably discuss Turkey's demand for the extradition of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkey and the United States are key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, but their relationship has been complicated by the US's strategy on Syria, and by Washington's refusal to extradite a Turkish cleric who Erdogan claims was behind the failed coup in Turkey a year ago.

Erdogan may seek a policy of "compartmentalization", Cagaptay said.

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Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or the PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and Europe. President Trump is not likely to be offended by any of these prosecutions, but he can not be seen to be "soft" on President Erdogan.

Yayla said he believes Erdogan will use the USA lease on the vital Incirlik air base in southern Turkey as leverage to pressure Trump to accede to his demands. Former President Barack Obama reportedly pondered the Kurdish option for a long time before deciding, in the last week of his tenure, to let Mr. Trump decide.

"Human rights and democracy are not part of Trump's agenda, but we hope that he abandons this stance", Tanrikulu said.

Yet analysts warn that Mr Trump - even if he wanted to - can not simply promise Mr Erdogan that Mr Gulen will be extradited as the process depends on the independent American judicial system.

The Turkish leader said that Turkey had "notified our friends" about Gulen's alleged involvement in the coup.

Zarrab's prosecution had been brought by Preet Bharara, the former USA attorney for the Southern District of NY, who was sacked in March along with other US attorneys named under President Barrack Obama. "However, at the moment it is necessary, and we will be doing that at military level at a meeting in Istanbul or in Ankara".

Giuliani had been a surrogate for Trump on the campaign trail, and his new employer, the law firm Greenberg Traurig, is registered as an agent for the Turkish government.

Erdogan himself is what you might call a "difficult personality", regarded in the West as a ruthless, power-grabbing autocrat at home and, at best, a prickly, often uncooperative ally in regional matters.

"Erdogan is very unhappy with this because they see how the YPG and PKK are linked", said Soner Cagaptay, a Turkey expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "I think it should be done, but we have a lot of work to do with the Turks". The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to reporters.

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