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Donald Trump, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Republican senators at a meeting in the Oval Office. U.S. President Donald Trump, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Republican senators meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Nov. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

Trump and Congress Don’t See Eye-to-Eye on Turkey. That’s Nothing New

Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019

Last week’s White House meeting between President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan included plenty of compliments and praise—mostly one way, from Trump to Erdogan—but it failed to resolve the most serious issues hampering U.S.-Turkey ties. Trump, as usual, created some theater by inviting five Republican senators who take a much tougher view on Turkey to press Erdogan about the recent Turkish invasion of northern Syria and attacks on Kurdish forces allied with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State, until Trump abandoned them. Erdogan reportedly responded by showing the senators an anti-Kurdish propaganda video on an iPad he’d brought into the Oval Office.

The scene was revealing in how it underscored the wide gap that exists between Congress and the White House when it comes to ties with Ankara. But Trump’s instincts may not be the final word. This gap is not unique to the Trump era but part of a long trend in Washington, in which the executive branch looks at Turkey through a security lens, while Congress is more likely to consider human rights, governance and other issues when it considers the bilateral relationship. ...

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