Feb 27 2018

U.S.-Turkish committees will meet in March

Three technical committees will meet in Washington on Mar. 8-9 to discuss ways to normalise relations between Turkey and the United States, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Tuesday.

U.S.-Turkish relations have been under serious pressure due to diverging objectives in Syria, provocative behaviour and rhetoric aimed at the United States by Turkish government leaders, and the presence in the United States of Fethullah Gülen, an Islamist preacher who Turkey blames for plotting the failed July 2016 coup attempt.

Anti-U.S. rhetoric from Turkish leaders reached a peak in February with the threats to extend Operation Olive Branch, a Turkish military operation against Kurdish militias in northwest Syria, to the nearby area of Manbij, where U.S. forces are deployed supporting affiliated local Kurdish and Arab forces.

U.S. Secretary of State flew to Turkey in a swift effort to cool tensions between the countries, preventing the full-scale collapse of bilateral relations, according to former Turkish foreign minister Yaşar Yakış. The working committees were set up during this visit.

One of the working committees will deal with issues related to the alleged terrorist organisation set up by followers of Fethullah Gülen, as well as “Turkey’s procurement of S-400 missile system from Russia, migration and visa issues,” according to Anadolu.

The second committee will deal with the tense situation between the NATO allies in Syria, and Turkey’s demand to clear People’s Protection Unit (YPG) fighters from Manbij.

Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has been in armed conflict with Turkish armed forces for decades. Washington, however, says the YPG and its affiliates are vital partners in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).

The third committee will discuss issues related to Iraq, said Anadolu.