Trump invited to visit Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pictured. | Getty Images

In recent days, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been a key figure in the controversy over President Trump’s stated plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. | Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

The president of Turkey invited President Donald Trump to visit Turkey in 2019, the White House said Monday night.

“The president is open to a potential meeting in the future,” spokesman Hogan Gidley said on behalf of the White House.

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the authoritarian president of Turkey since 2014, has been a significant part of two recent American foreign policy situations.

In recent days, Erdogan has been a key figure in the controversy over Trump’s stated plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Trump has said he feels confident the United States can leave because the Turks will continue the fight against ISIS forces in the region.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted: “I just had a long and productive call with President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey. We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area. After many years they are coming home. We also discussed heavily expanded Trade.“

Later in the day, Trump added: “President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey has very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria. … and he is a man who can do it plus, Turkey is right “next door.” Our troops are coming home!“

However, critics of Turkey’s government have noted that Turkey has a stake in having a free hand in Syria since it seeks to destroy Kurdish-led forces that are also a force in the the quagmire that is Syria’s civil war. Kurds have been fighting Turkey’s government for years as part of their efforts to carve out and protect an area called Kurdistan that would include areas of Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq.

In Syria, the Kurds had been allied with American forces.

“I’m saddened for the many Kurds and others that likely will be — will be killed and slaughtered by the Syrians or the Turks,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Sunday when discussing the consequences of the U.S. withdrawal from Syria on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

In October, it was Turkey’s government that revealed the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul. The revelations came because Erdogan’s government had the consulate under surveillance and was able to produce audio recordings that demonstrated the Saudi government was lying about the slaying of Khashoggi.

For his own part, Erdogan‘s government has been the subject of much international criticism over his human rights record.

“An ongoing state of emergency set a backdrop for violations of human rights,” wrote Amnesty International in its report about Turkey for 2017-18. “Dissent was ruthlessly suppressed, with journalists, political activists and human rights defenders among those targeted.“ In 2017, during a visit by Erdogan to Washington, his bodyguards assaulted protesters outside Turkey’s embassy on Massachusetts Avenue.

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