A top U.S. national security delegation arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara on Monday to discuss recent developments, particularly Syria and the FETO terrorist group.
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton and his delegation arrived in Ankara on Monday afternoon following a trip to Israel.
The delegation includes Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and U.S. Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey, recently appointed and a former ambassador to Turkey.
The delegation is expected to meet with Turkish officials and discuss the coordination of regional security between Turkey and the U.S. following the decision to withdraw American troops from Syria.
“Looking forward to visiting Israel and Turkey in January,” Bolton tweeted last week. “We will discuss our continued work confronting security challenges facing allies and partners in the region, including the next phase of the fight against ISIS [Daesh], as the U.S. begins to bring troops home from Syria.”
In a surprising move, U.S. President Donald Trump last month announced the withdrawal of American forces from Syria.
Trump made the decision during a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which the two leaders agreed on the need for more effective coordination over the civil war-torn country.
U.S. troops in Syria have been cooperating with the terrorist YPG/PKK to fight Daesh, against Turkey’s objections that using one terror group to fight another is illogical.
In its 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the terrorist PKK has taken some 40,000 lives, including women and children. The YPG/PKK is the PKK’s Syrian branch.
Main topics on table
Talks with Turkish officials are expected to focus on combating the FETO and PKK terror groups, the roadmap for Manbij, Syria, the U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria, the sale of U.S. Patriot defense systems to Turkey, and economic ties.
For Turkey, coordination of the withdrawal is very important. Turkey does not want any power vacuum in the region after the U.S. withdrawal.
Turkey wants to see a clear map for withdrawal as well as the Manbij roadmap finalized before the pullout is completed.
The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) is also expected to be discussed. Efforts to extradite FetullahGulen, its U.S.-based leader, and other FETO members are among the issues to be raised in the meetings.
Last week, Turkish and U.S. officials met in Ankara to discuss efforts against FETO, including the terror group’s so-called civilian imams.
Turkey’s Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said on Sunday: “The U.S. asked Turkey to provide information about FETO as part of Washington’s investigation of the terror group.”
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and the judiciary.
On Sunday, during his visit in Israel, Bolton said the U.S. will not withdraw troops from northeastern Syria until the Turkish government guarantees its fight against Daesh and that it will not attack “Kurdish fighters,” referring to YPG/PKK terrorist group.
Rebuffing to Bolton’s remarks, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin on Sunday called claims that Turkey targets Kurds “irrational,” as the country is fighting Daesh and PKK/PYD/YPG terrorists.
“The issue is the PKK/PYD/YPG are making efforts to establish an order by oppressing Kurds, who don’t obey them, and their terrorist activities against our country,” said Kalin.
On Sunday, Trump said that the withdrawal of American forces from Syria will not happen “that quickly.”
The president told reporters: “We are pulling back in Syria. We are going to be removing our troops. I never said we are doing it that quickly.”