Feb 19 2018

U.S.-Turkey averted a crisis – Senior Advisor to Erdogan

A senior advisor to the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, in an interview, that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit last week averted a break in U.S.-Turkey ties.

“It was an earnest visit, as Tillerson was making every effort he could to try to reach an understanding regarding Turkey’s concerns,” told Gülnur Aybet, Senior Advisor to the Turkish President and a professor of international relations, “It is fair to say that we were heading towards a collision and that has been averted.”

"Until the visit, U.S.–Turkey relations could be described as frustrating, and on the part of the U.S. inconsistent, as there were promises given to us on various occasions since last May that were not fulfilled. " said Aybet, adding that Tillerson made "every effort he could to try to reach an understanding in which Turkey’s concerns and frustrations could be met by the American side."

The advisor said that both sides agreed to establish working groups to deal with two separate issues, one concerning Turkey's worries about a U.S. based cleric, Fethullah Gülen, that Turkey claims to be the mastermind of 2016 coup attempt, and the other one regarding the risk of NATO allies colliding in Syria's Manbij region. The U.S. has some forces in Manbij, working with the local militia to fight against ISIS. Turkey considers some of the groups that the U.S. is cooperating in Syria, to be connected to a domestic insurgent movement.

The senior advisor said that the "results-oriented work groups" will try and find a solution to the "Manbij problem."

Answering the reporter's question about a possible lack of coordination between Washington and Ankara in Syria, Aybet said: "All aspects of the U.S. government are concerned that they should not be on a collision course with a NATO ally and all of them look very positively at results-oriented mechanisms."