Turkey may begin new era with U.S. through Libya policy - Erdoğan

Turkey may start a new era in its relations with the United States through common policies towards Libya, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said after a call with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.

“After talking to Trump tonight, there might be a new era in Libya. There are some issues we agreed to. I will discuss with Putin too,” Erdoğan said in an interview with state-run news channel TRT on Monday.

Turkey has provided strong military support to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya’s capital Tripoli, backing analysts say was vital in preventing the Libya National Army (LNA) from capturing the city. Russia meanwhile has increased its support for the LNA, led by commander Khalifa Haftar.

The White House did not mention details of any common initiative for Libya agreed between Trump and Erdoğan on the call. The two leaders discussed critical bilateral and regional issues, including Libya, Syria, and the eastern Mediterranean, White House spokesperson Judd Deere told journalists.

Relations between the United States and NATO member Turkey have soured over the past two years after the latter took delivery of Russian S-400 air defence missiles and sent troops into Syria to fight Syrian Kurdish militants allied with the United States in the fight against Islamic State (ISIS). 

Turning to the ongoing demonstrations in the United States over the murder of George Floyd, Erdoğan said Syrian militants linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were involved in the protests. The PKK, which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for four decades, is recognised as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.

Erdoğan said Trump had not yet been briefed on documents sent by Ankara outlining the links between Syrian Kurds and the U.S.-based ANTIFA movement, a loosely organised leftist, anti-fascist group involved in the demonstrations. Trump said last week that ANTIFA would soon be declared a terrorist organisation, accusing it of exploiting the anti-racism protests.

Erdoğan's spokesperson Fahrettin Altun shared a video on Twitter on June 6 that allegedly linked ANTIFA to the PKK. An unidentified commentator in the video said "Turkey fully supports” the decision of the U.S. government to recognise ANTIFA as a terrorist organisation.

Erdoğan said he and Trump also discussed the Gülen movement, which Turkey accuses of orchestrating a failed military coup in July 2016. Erdoğan said he shared with Trump the names of some members of the movement residing in the United States, asking him to ensure they were extradited to Turkey.

Trump would do what was necessary once he received an official list of the persons, Erdoğan said.