No great loss if ‘authoritarian’ Erdogan cancels meeting with Trump: US diplomat

A top US diplomat has dismissed speculation that Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could cancel his upcoming meeting with US President Donald Trump because of the recent approval of arms supplies to a Kurdish group in Syria and said it wouldn’t be a great loss.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Richard Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, said it was positive that the Trump administration had armed the Syrian Kurds.

“If Erdogan cancels visit here, no great loss given his authoritarian rule and unhelpful Syria role.”

Haass had also criticised previous Turkish airstrikes targeting the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the leading group in the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is combating the Islamic State in Syria.

In a statement on Wednesday President Erdogan urged the US to ‘immediately’ reverse its decision on arming the YPG.

“I will personally express our worries in a detailed way when we talk with President Trump on 16 May,” adding that the issue would also be discussed at the NATO summit in Brussels on 25 May.

Ankara views the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish government for autonomy and cultural rights for its 15-million Kurdish population.

Critics have accused Erdogan of having an anti-Kurdish policy and favouring Islamist groups in Syria.