The Trump administration has embarked on a new campaign to try to repair ties and pull Turkey out of its deepening alliances with Russia and Iran. As part of that, senior U.S officials including Mr. Tillerson, National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, have held intensive talks with Turkish leaders in recent days as they try to persuade Mr. Erdogan to step back from his warming relations with Moscow and Tehran.
This is interesting. On some level and to some extent Turkey remains part of the Empire. At the same time Erdogan feels more alienated from Washington than a leader of a “rogue nation”.
UPDATE — At a meeting today Erdogan doubled down. He said the official US was a “lie machine”, that Turkey would dislodge the Pentagon-backed Kurdish fighters from Manbij in Syria where US troops are present and that a “hot summer” awaited “terrorist organizations and their supporters”:
“It appears as though the summer will be hot for the terrorist organization and those that support it. We will first clear Manbij from terrorists and then we will continue our operation in order to secure the eastern Euphrates for us and for our Syrian brothers,” Erdoğan said at a meeting in Ankara on Feb. 23.
“We are tired of reproaching their attempts to legitimize PKK terrorists… We have presented hundreds of cases, including [promises from U.S. officials] about Manbij. Whenever we say this they admit that we are right. They are a lie machine. Turkey is against these tactics,” Erdoğan said.
It’s safe to say the US-Turkish rift has not been healed. Instead it sounds like Erdogan is learning what Russians have been saying for a while — the US is not agreement capable. There are too many competing interests and centers of power driving its actions.