Kurdish armament, Gulen and Syria dominate Trump-Erdogan summit agenda
Turkish President Recep Erdogan arrived to Washington on Monday for talks with US President Donald Trump, in which they are expected to discuss crucial clashes in their foreign policies.
The White House is pushing with arming Kurdish fighters in Syria, something that Ankara is vehemently against.
So far, Trump is continuing with the strategy of arming Syrian Kurdish militant group YPG and allowing them to spearhead the recapturing the IS de-facto capital city and stronghold Raqqa. This has been met with anxiety by the Erdogan government, which considers the YPG to be a terrorist organisation.
Erdogan’s biggest concern in empowering Kurdish militant groups on Turkey’s border is the possibility of the YPG using military aid to arm its Turkish counterparts, the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK).
While the US does not consider the Syrian Kurdish group YPG a terrorist organisation, Turkey does because of its ties to the outlawed separatist PKK inside Turkey. The United States, the European Union and Turkey all agree the PKK is a terrorist organisation.
The Turkish government fears the possibility of weapons Washington provides the YPG could infiltrate into the PKK, who have fought violently as part of a separatist insurgency for more than three decades.
However, the Pentagon has promised tight monitoring of all weapons and greater intelligence sharing to help Ankara’s defence strategy.
Turkey is taking to further measures to neutralise the perceived Kurdish threat, namely with building a wall with the Iranian border.
By building this wall, it would allegedly withdraw the transfer and movement from PKK militants who reside in Iraq’s Qandil region, which borders both Iran and Turkey.
This comes after Turkey built a wall that covered 511km stretch out of the 900km border with Syria to prevent IS militants from entering Turkey through the border.
Erdogan had also told local Turkish media that he will discuss the extradition of US based Fethallah Gulen.
"There are some documents and information we have prepared, which we will present to him," said Erdogan. "In my opinion, the United States of America should not be an incubation centre for Gulen."
The Turkish government accused the Gulen movement of orchestrating a defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which killed nearly 250 people and injured more than 2,000.