Analysis & Opinions - Financial Times

Donald Trump’s Top Security Aide Snubbed by Turkey’s President

| Jan. 08, 2019

Laura Pitel in Ankara and Aime Williams in Washington

Donald Trump’s top security aide was snubbed by Turkey’s president on Tuesday, striking a blow to Washington’s efforts to contain the fallout from a plan to withdraw US troops from Syria.

John Bolton, the White House national security adviser, had hoped to meet Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his two-day visit to Ankara as part of a rearguard effort to reassure US allies and secure the safety of Kurdish forces in Syria following last month’s abrupt announcement on the departure of the troops.

Instead, he found himself on the receiving end of a blistering attack by Mr Erdogan, who accused him of making a “serious mistake” in asking Turkey not to attack Kurdish militants, in comments to reporters in Jerusalem before his arrival.

“We cannot swallow . . . the message that Bolton gave in Israel,” the Turkish president said, adding that he “probably doesn’t know” the difference between ethnic Kurds and armed Kurdish groups.

The Turkish president repeated a vow to launch a military assault against the Kurdish YPG militia. The group played a leading role in the campaign against Isis jihadis in Syria and received US weapons and training in return. But it is viewed in Ankara as a threat to Turkey’s security and faces an attack from Turkish armed forces after US troops leave. “We will do what is necessary against these terrorists,” Mr Erdogan said.

Mr Bolton and his delegation did meet Ibrahim Kalin, Mr Erdogan’s spokesman and one of his most trusted aides, on Tuesday. “They had a productive discussion of the president’s decision to withdraw at a proper pace from north-east Syria,” Garrett Marquis, US National Security Council spokesman, said in a statement. Mr Bolton also had conversations with the deputy defence minister and the deputy foreign minister.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:Donald Trump’s Top Security Aide Snubbed by Turkey’s President.” Financial Times, January 8, 2019.