After a day of meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan proved what a shrewd politician he is.
He entered the eye of a hurricane of hostility directed against his domestic repression and international adventurism – and came out not only untouched, but a victor. He was hailed by Trump as "highly respected" and his "good friend," and protected by the U.S. president from any media questions that might discomfit him.
Erdogan manipulated Trump – and Trump was more than willing to be manipulated.
These days in the United States, it is hard to imagine a more despised and reviled international leader than Erdogan – except, perhaps Iran’s Ayatollah Khameini and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman.
– Richard Haas tweet
The president of Turkey has done nothing to warrant an invitation to the White House. We should be reducing our reliance on a Turkey that is an ally in name only, wait out Erdogan, and signal to Turks that the benefits of close ties with the US require acting like an ally.
— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) November 13, 2019
From nightly comedy shows, to scathing editorials, America’s right and left have reached a general consensus: Erdogan is the bad guy who manipulated a seemingly willing Trump to withdraw U.S. forces in order to facilitate Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria and to attack the U.S.’s staunch ally, the Kurds.
In the lead-up to his arrival in the U.S., Republican and Democrat members of Congress, led by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel issued a joint letter to President Trump urging him to rescind his invitation to Erdogan. The lawmakers stated that:
"President Erdogan’s decision to invade northern Syria on October 9 has had disastrous consequences for U.S. national security." It continued: "Turkish forces have killed civilians and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a critical U.S. partner in the fight against ISIS."