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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid