As the Turkish president prepares to visit Washington, relations between Turkey and the US have become strained as there are disagreements in the discussion over what NATO members ought to do in Syria. These two countries have different priorities as to what the world should be focusing on in Syria. The US and its leaders would like to focus on uprooting the Islamic State militants and defeating them. However, this is not the main priority for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who believes that it is most important for the NATO countries to focus on ridding Syria of its current leader, Bashar al-Assad.
Another problem that is causing the tensions between the US and Turkey is the fact that the US supports the Democratic Union Party (PYT) rebels within Syria. Turkey dislikes this, as they believe the PYT to be a part of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group that wants to take land from Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran in order to form a Kurdish state. Turkey does not want this, and the rising tensions stem from the fact that it appears that the US is supporting a group that is endeavoring to bring that about. Leaders do not see any foreseeable changes in Turkey-US relations until the issue of the two countries’ positions on the status of PYT is resolved.
Also, the US is not pleased with Turkey’s recent crackdown on newspapers in Turkey. The government recently took control of the country’s largest newspaper. The US embassy in Turkey has tweeted support of journalists who have been jailed by the Turkish government, causing even more tensions and some ill feeling toward the US ambassador to Turkey.
Though President Erdogan had announced that he was to meet with President Obama, it is reported that he will now be meeting with Vice-President Biden. Erdogan is also going to be presiding over the opening of a mosque in Maryland, which he invited Obama to attend, however the American president declined.