U.S.-Turkey alliance is more important than ever to confront global threats, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain said in a statement released following a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday.
McCain said that he had a “warm and constructive meeting” with President Erdoğan, noting that partnership between the two countries is “more vital than ever” amid growing disorder in Europe and the Middle East.
“Most of our discussion focused on the situation in Syria. The change of administration in the United States presents an important opportunity to review and reassess current policy in Syria” McCain said, in reference to the new administration led by President Donald Trump, as relations between the two countries hit rock-bottom during the Obama administration due to a number of reasons.
For instance, Turkey has been concerned about the U.S. support for PKK’s Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party (PYD)’s armed wing the People’s Protection Units (YPG) terrorists under the guise of fighting Daesh in northern Syria. The U.S. under Obama administration has also been reluctant to arrest and extradite the leader of Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) Fetullah Gülen, who is accused of masterminding the July 15 failed coup attempt and infiltrating Turkish state institutions with the aim of toppling the democratically elected government.
The senior Republican senator also said that the U.S. must cooperate with Turkey to defeat Daesh and build a balance of power in the war-torn region.
He referred to President Erdoğan’s proposal to establish terror-free zones in Syria and retake Raqqa from Daesh terrorists, which he said should receive serious consideration by the U.S.
McCain highlighted that cooperation between Turkey and the U.S. to improve the situation in Syria and the region will serve the national security interests of both countries, and that he is looking forward to working with both parties in this regard.
Turkish officials anticipate that President Trump will not repeat the mistakes made by the Obama administration regarding U.S.-Turkey relations, expressing expectations for Washington to extradite Gülen and halt cooperation with the PKK terrorist organization’s Syrian offshoot the PYD/YPG.
Since Trump’s arrival at the White House, there have been several high-level meetings between Ankara and Washington, including Trump-Erdoğan and Yıldırım-Pence phone meetings, Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu’s meeting with Rex Tillerson, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo’s visit to Ankara and the meeting between U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Prime Minister Yıldırım over the weekend in Munich, Germany.
In addition, last Friday the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford visited Turkey, where he met Chief of General Staff General Hulusi Akar. During the meeting, the two generals also discussed the position of Turkey and the U.S. with regards to the Raqqa operation, military sources said.