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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid