Turkish leader blasts United States on bid to shield Syrian Kurds

Morass in the Middle East: Top Diplomats Dispatched to Defend US Policy

Because of this, it views all ethnic Kurdish groups as terrorists.

Turkish officials on Thursday continued to threaten an invasion of Syrian Kurdistan where U.S. troops still serve along Kurdish-led forces in the fight against the Islamic State even if President Donald Trump's administration backpedals on the withdrawal decision.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a speech in Egypt in which he trashed former president Barack Obama for his approach to the political challenges of the Middle East. But administration efforts at reassurance have instead raised doubts about the plan, laid bare internal disagreements and perplexed U.S. partners.

In the speech entitled "A Force for Good: America's Reinvigorated Role in the Middle East", Pompeo extolled the Trump administration's actions across the region cementing ties with traditional, albeit authoritarian, friendly governments, taking on the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and imposing tough new sanctions on Iran.

Erdogan's comments came shortly after US National Security Adviser John Bolton held talks in the Turkish capital with Erdogan's adviser Ibrahim Kalin, in a key meeting focusing on the surprise US decision to withdraw its troops from Syria.

The Trump administration encountered similar pushback elsewhere on Tuesday, as United States allies pressed their own priorities. Pompeo has chosen Cairo as the symbolic venue for a speech meant to repudiate the message in former US President Barack Obama's landmark address to the Muslim world from the Egyptian capital when he first took office. The minister also rejected Israel's request that the United States recognise Israeli sovereignty over Syrian territory that Israel occupies in the Golan Heights.

Mr Trump, in a tweet before Christmas, had declared Isil defeated and said 2,000 or so American troops would be returning home as soon as possible. Ankara still expects Trump to stick to his word, he said, but acknowledged, "There are those in the field who are working to prevent the withdrawal", counting Bolton among those opposed to it. By Tuesday evening, Erdogan was declining a meeting with the USA national security adviser who had arrived to the Turkish capital. "Everyone is scrambling to reinterpret the president's message".

Currently, about 2,000 U.S. forces are in Syria, which is in the grips of a complex civil war.

Erdogan charged that Bolton made a "serious mistake" in appearing to put conditions on President Donald Trump's call to withdraw USA troops from Syria that would keep them there without a change of mission or timetable for a pullout.

In his June 2009 speech at Cairo University, Obama called for better mutual understanding between the Islamic world and the West and said both should do more to confront violent extremism.

"These questions are hard enough, if you know the timeline on which you're making them if you know what the U.S. involvement will or won't be over that timeline", Geltzer said. To prevent an Islamic State resurgence, the USA will retain unspecified capabilities on the ground for ongoing operations.

The White House has no intention of giving up the war on Islamic State, nor abandoning valiant Kurdish forces, America's long-standing allies, to Turkish troops poised to swoop in and annihilate these enemies of the Turkish regime. But Kalin did not budge from Turkey's insistence that the bulk of those fighters, who are members of the Syrian Kurdish Peoples Protection Units, or YPG, are allied with Kurdish separatists in Turkey.

He also said some officials in the USA administration had sought to deter Trump from the pullout plan and create "excuses" like Turkey is massacring Kurds, in reference to Pompeo's comments.

In statements made earlier this month, Trump seemed to understand the concerns over the fate of the Kurdish militant groups, and ahead of leaving for the Middle East Pompeo indicated his country's commitment to securing the Kurdish fighters.

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