Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Donald J. Trump
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Donald J. Trump at the G20 Japan Summit in Osaka on June 29, 2019. Photo credit: The White House / Flickr

As violence in northern Syria continues and war crimes allegations against Turkey mount, it looks as though all US President Donald Trump ostensibly got for his meeting with his Turkish counterpart was an unwanted Islamic State deportee.

Turkey has started deporting Westerners who are Islamic State members back to their countries of origin, including one to the US on Friday, as violence continues to spiral in northern Syria and cracks between Ankara and the rest of the NATO alliance continue to widen.

President Donald Trump said he was “a big fan” of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a populist turned authoritarian, when they met in Washington, DC, on Wednesday. But the meeting failed to quell the crisis between the countries, and it is unclear that it brought any benefit to Trump, the US, or the Middle East. Evidence is mounting that Turkey and its jihadist proxies are committing war crimes in northern Syria, in violation of a ceasefire that allowed Trump to claim he hadn’t abandoned his local allies in the face of a Turkish onslaught

With Erdoğan dogged by protesters everywhere and his visit coinciding with the first public impeachment hearings against Trump, the two looked less like the scary dictators their critics often portray them as, and more like two beleaguered authoritarians cuddling together.

In fact, Erdoğan also had a stormy meeting with members of Congress, where he attempted to paint the leadership of the Syrian Kurds, a key force against the Islamic State, as terrorists. In response, he was put on notice that Turkey faces US sanctions.

Meanwhile, as Turkey-backed forces have been attacking the outskirts of the town Tel Tamir in northeastern Syria, reports from the ground suggest the local population is rallying behind the Syrian Kurdish militia, the main target of Turkey’s offensive. Scenes of Turkish soldiers shooting unarmed protestors highlight the quagmire Turkey faces with its invasion.

According to the latest rumors the Syrian rebels have shared with journalists, Turkey may be preparing to attack Kobani, an iconic town where the Kurds turned the tide against ISIS in late 2014, and where their strategic partnership with the US was forged. We are following the situation closely. Stay tuned.


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