Trump sparks anger in Turkey

Written by Staff Writer by Michael Weissenstein, CNN

Turkey’s top diplomats underlined the country’s close ties with the United States on the eve of an official visit by a Crown Prince, but a poll published Thursday showed that eight out of 10 Turks do not have faith in Donald Trump to put American values first.

Turkey is a crucial NATO member and a supporter of the Syrian Kurds, who Trump has warned against forming an autonomous region in the northeast. Turkey regards the Kurdish administration in northern Syria as a dangerous and terrorist group, and sees the YPG as being allied to it.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his son-in-law, foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, stressed during a press conference in Istanbul that the Crown Prince’s visit would “strengthen and deepen” existing relations with the US.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Crown Prince). Credit: Thomas Coex/Liaison Office of the President of the Republic of Turkey

Turkish leaders nevertheless vowed to use their accession process to the European Union to press Washington to protect Ankara’s interests in the region. “Erdogan’s views on his relations with America are increasingly defined by his stance with respect to the US-Turkey issues on which we have a common viewpoint,” foreign minister Cavusoglu said, without outlining specific interests.

Trump’s visits to Turkey last November and this year prompted a backlash from the Turkish public, who found his harsh words toward Erdogan harder to accept than his words towards the Saudis.

“Erdogan’s country did not have any interests in Iraq, Syria or Yemen during American times. But today it has a stake in all these states. Turkey now wishes to be on the front line of protecting its natural resources,” said sociologist Ahmet Guner at the Ideas club in Istanbul.

Turks celebrated the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, a meeting between King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Donald Trump at the White House, on April 6, 2017.

A survey published by Cihan poll published by Turkish daily Hurriyet showed that while over 80% of Turks say they are satisfied with the Turkey-US partnership, 8 out of 10 also do not think Trump is fit to represent the US. “Some 43% of Turks wanted a meeting between Erdogan and Trump while 39% do not want such a meeting,” the poll showed.

Despite the rancor towards the US on Turkey’s part, pollster Ozgur Unluhisarcikli praised the government’s “good communication with the US on the security of Turkish assets in Syria.”

Over the last few weeks, some 50 Turkish troops have been deployed in Syria to secure part of the city of Manbij, which the Kurds control. Turkey considers the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as terrorist organization, and has promised to move them back.

This fall, Turkey-US relations are likely to be tested further after the launching of the American Kurdish operation to oust ISIS militants from the remaining cities it controls in northern Syria.

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