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Meeting signals new page in Turkish-American relations

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19.05.2017

A very important development occurred this week for the normalization process of Turkish-American relations. Recently, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a face-to-face meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House. Since 2002, Erdoğan has visited the U.S. several times to meet with various presidents. We have to say that this visit by Erdoğan has been different in two respects. The first is that Erdoğan did not go to Washington from Istanbul over the Atlantic, instead he traveled from Beijing over the Pacific, whether this could be read as an interesting clue to Turkey's foreign policy in the new period, only time will tell.

Second, this is Erdoğan's first visit after Trump's election as president and aims to normalize Turkish-American relations that have hit their worst slump in recent history. This visit, where I was also in Erdoğan's delegation, had the purpose of turning a new page in bilateral relations.

Prior to the visit, many analysts claimed that a new phase in Turkish-American relations depended on Trump's attitude toward Raqqa. The Barak Obama administration's support for the People's Protection Units (YPG), the PKK's Syrian army, under the guise of fighting Daesh, created significant tension between the two countries. In fact, Trump's approval of the Obama-period plan to give the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which consist primarily of YPG members, heavy weaponry in the operations in Raqqa against Daesh put a damper on relations prior to the visit. The cloud of this decision was expected to overshadow the meeting, even inspiring a debate about whether or not it should be cancelled. However, the ones who were discussing this were not Trump, Erdoğan or even their supporters. The actors who did not want this relationship to be established actually attempted to manipulate it prior to the visit. The main justification for embarking on a normalization of Turkish-American relations, which entered a serious crisis during the Obama........

© Daily Sabah