News / Middle East

Turkish PM Heads to US to Discuss Syria, Other Regional Issues

FILE - Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
FILE - Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Dorian Jones
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Thursday. The two leaders agree that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go, after two years of violence that has left more than 70,000 people dead. But, Obama and Erdogan have sharp disagreements on their approaches to Syria and other key Middle East issues.

Following Saturday's car bombings in the Turkish town of Reyhanli, Prime Minister Erdogan is expected to press President Obama to take tougher stance against Damascus.

Sinan Ulgen, head of the Istanbul research institute Edam, says the Turkish prime minister has specific demands he will present to President Obama.

"Turkey [will] try to convince the U.S. to have a more interventionist attitude towards Syria, such as establishing a no-fly zone," said Ulgen. "That could change the balance of forces on the ground. I think he will substantiate his argument by telling that unless that is done, there is a real possibility for the Syrian conflict to pull in countries like Turkey."

But with Moscow and Washington working together to organize a conference aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict, some observers say expectations are low in Ankara of any immediate change in U.S. policy.

Still, analyst Ulgen says Ankara will be looking beyond the current diplomatic efforts.

"We should give a chance to this political process that has been set afoot by this latest Russia-U.S. summit, but nonetheless if we don't get any traction on this front, then the U.S. should reconsider shifting its position on Syria. That will be the message of the Turkish leadership in Washington," he said.

Observers close to Turkey's ruling AK party say they expect President Obama to be looking to Prime Minister Erdogan to help facilitate the current diplomatic efforts by persuading the Syrian opposition coalition to join the planned peace conference.

Ankara is among the strongest supporters of the Syrian opposition and opposes talks that would include President Assad or any of his close supporters.  Washington may be looking for a softening of that stance.

The Syrian opposition is set to decide at a meeting in Istanbul next week whether to participate in the peace conference.

Another potentially thorny issue is that of Israeli-Turkish relations. The two key U.S. allies are engaged in rapprochement efforts following the killing of nine Turks in fighting with Israeli commandos aboard a Palestinian aid ship that tried to breach Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2010.

Asli Aydintasbas, diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, says President Obama will be looking to expedite the current rapprochement.

"[It is] very clear, the Israeli apology brokered by President Obama for the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident has impacted Turkish-U.S. relations positively. In many ways, Obama and Erdogan have had a good working relationship. But the tension in Israeli-Turkish ties has always been a strain on Washington, on its ability to work with Turkey," said Aydintasbas.

Iraq is also predicted to be on the agenda of the talks between U.S. president and Turkish prime minister. Rising sectarian violence in Iraq is straining relations between Ankara and Baghdad, with Erdogan's government and that of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accusing each other of inciting the violence.

Semih Idiz is diplomatic correspondent for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet.

"Iraq does remain a delicate issue, of course. There is still a strain between the Maliki government and Ankara, even though America is trying repair that, too. So I think Washington will try to convince Turkey to open up to Maliki and Turkey will try to convince Washington to use its pressure on Maliki to be a little more fairer and gentler on the Sunnis of Iraq," said Idiz.

Erdogan's Washington visit is expected to bolster the deepening relations and cooperation between the U.S. and Turkey. But, observers say, while they may share similar goals in the region, differences remain, and the visit's success may depend on how well those differences are managed.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid