Hundreds Rally Against White House Visit by Turkey’s Erdogan
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the White House Wednesday to protest a meeting between President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Demonstrators chanted slogans such as “Turkey is a terrorist!” and “Turkey out of Syria,” the latter being a reference to Ankara’s cross-border military incursion geared toward ending the presence in northeastern Syria of the Kurdish YPG. Turkey deems the YPG an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged a four-decades-long insurgency inside Turkey aimed at gaining autonomy. However, the United States partnered with the YPG during the campaign in Syria to defeat Islamic State, a move that created tension between Washington and Ankara. The matter was compounded when President Trump ordered a partial troop withdrawal from Syria, effectively paving the way for the Turkish invasion and prompting many to declare that he had abandoned an ally. Congress is currently weighing sanctions against Turkey for its action in Syria, and many US political leaders denounced Erdogan’s invitation to Washington. Notably, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), considered by many a Trump ally, said he “shared my colleagues’ uneasiness at seeing President Erdogan honored at the White House.” For his part, President Trump referred to Erdogan as a “very good friend” despite their ongoing disagreements, including over NATO-member Turkey’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system.