Ankara – Turkish diplomatic sources said that Ankara would fail to agree with Washington on two key issues, including the extradition of Turkish preacher Muhammed Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Turkish authorities of plotting last year’s coup attempt, and the Pentagon’s armament of Kurdish YPG militias, which are seen by the US as a main ally in fighting ISIS in Syria.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, the sources said that armament of Kurdish militias in Syria has prevailed over the agenda of the meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington on Tuesday.
A Turkish expert in international relations told Asharq Al-Awsat that “cold relations” between Ankara and the US might persist, especially after the Pentagon announced that it would arm Kurdish militias in Syria, as a main partner in fighting ISIS.
Last week, the White House announced supplying arms to Kurdish fighters to support an operation to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from ISIS, in a major shock to US-Turkish relations ahead of Erdogan’s visit to Washington.
Despite Turkey’s strong objection, the Pentagon announced that Trump has approved supplying arms to the Kurdish forces, as a necessary step “to ensure a clear victory” in Raqqa.
Another issue of disagreement, according to the Turkish expert, is the extradition of Gulen, who has been living in the US since 1999, and who is accused by Turkey of orchestrating the failed coup against Erdogan in July 2016.
The expert noted that following four months of intensive US-Turkish negotiations over the matter, the US administration has not yet approved the Turkish request.
In parallel with Erdogan’s visit to Washington and few hours before his meeting with Trump, a number of US congressmen signed an open letter, calling on Trump to oppose the extradition of Gulen, as no legal evidence was established regarding his role in the failed coup attempt.
The letter also criticized Erdogan for the massive wave of arrests against Gulen’s supporters and the shutting down of several media outlets in the wake of the coup.