Trump defends Turkey amid fierce backlash over policy shift

Source: Politico | October 8, 2019 | Quint Forgey

President Donald Trump on Tuesday promoted Turkey’s diplomatic and economic ties to the U.S. amid withering bipartisan criticism for his decision to allow the Middle Eastern nation to invade northern Syria — endangering the Kurdish fighters who helped the American military quash ISIS forces in the region.

“So many people conveniently forget that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States, in fact they make the structural steel frame for our F-35 Fighter Jet,” the president wrote on Twitter.

“They have also been good to deal with, helping me to save many lives at Idlib Province, and returning, in very … good health, at my request, Pastor Brunson, who had many years of a long prison term remaining,” he continued, referring to the evangelical reverend Turkey released to the U.S. in October 2018 after nearly two years of detention.

Trump also noted that Turkey “is an important member in good standing” of the international NATO military alliance, and revealed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would be “coming to the U.S. as my guest” on Nov. 13. The two leaders had previously been expected to meet in Washington sometime in the coming weeks.

Despite Trump’s praise for Turkey’s contribution to the F-35, the White House on July 17 decided to expel Turkey from the program after Ankara bought and received a Russian air defense system. Washington had warned Turkey for months that the S-400 system was incompatible with the stealth jet.

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