John Bolton’s visit to Turkey was decidedly a failure this weekend, leading to an angry rebuke from the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who cancelled plans to meet with Bolton during the visit.
Erdogan objected to comments by both Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the US concerns Turkey would target Syria’s Kurds during their invasion. Erdogan said Bolton’s comments were a “big mistake,” and has also accused him of complicating the announced US pullout.
US officials have made a big deal out of Turkey’s plans for the Kurds, as they have been the main US allies in Syria. Erdogan, however, called that a “huge lie,” and say that the Kurdish YPG was never really fighting ISIS.
Erdogan went so far as to accuse the US of “double-speak” on the issue of Syria, saying Bolton’s public statements contradicted the claimed agreement he made with President Trump. This is a fair complaint, as Bolton’s recent comments do conflict with Trump’s previous announcement on the pullout.
Where this leaves the US and Turkey is anyone’s guess. Turkey had clearly planned to invade after the US left, though now it’s not clear when the US will be leaving. Talk of having previous “productive discussion” on the US pullout may no longer apply, as Bolton seems to have moved the timetable back from months to withdraw to potentially years, and Turkey is once again threatening to invade unilaterally.
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