- The Washington Times
Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A senior Democrat told President Trump on Tuesday to revoke the Turkish president’s mid-November invitation to the White House, saying it “makes no sense” for the strongman to visit the U.S. while it punishes Ankara for the chaos in northern Syria.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire Democrat who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said a visit from Recep Tayyip Erdogan amid his assault on American-allied Kurdish fighters should be seen as unthinkable, as Vice President Mike Pence heads to Turkey to push for a cease-fire.

Mr. Erdogan’s forces are bombarding the Kurds in the wake of Mr. Trump’s Oct. 6 decision to pull a few dozen U.S. troops from key buffer zones along the Turkey-Syria border.

“President Erdogan needs to hear an unequivocal message of opposition to his incursion,” Mrs. Shaheen said. “President Trump must publicly revoke his invitation until Turkey pulls back from its current course. It makes no sense to be extending hospitality and niceties while President Erdogan refuses to heed international calls for a cease-fire.”

Among Republicans, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois told CBS on Sunday that Mr. Erdogan should “absolutely not” come to the White House, while Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas said the Turkish leader “should not visit the White House until his forces stand down.”

The White House hasn’t withdrawn the Nov. 13 invitation.

Press secretary Stephanie Grisham responded to an inquiry by saying there are no scheduling announcements on the visit “at this time.”

Mr. Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien will head to Turkey on Wednesday to try to work out a resolution. The vice president is scheduled to meet with Mr. Erdogan on Thursday.

Mr. Trump is also imposing economic sanctions on Turkey and cutting off trade talks with Ankara, as the fast-moving situation reshapes alliances in the region.

Mr. Trump says he did not “green light” the Turkish invasion, as his critics suggest, and that he will take a tough line on Turkey if it doesn’t respond to the sanctions.

“We have a lot in store if they don’t have an impact,” Mr. Trump said.

Democrats called the moves weak.

“They don’t look that significant to me,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Illinois Democrat, told CNN, before echoing other lawmakers’ concerns about the Erdogan visit. “I don’t think that we should be hosting this authoritarian leader who is attacking our allies.”

Democrats said Mr. Erdogan’s troops have inflicted a lot of damage on the region.

Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria, which President Trump allowed to happen, has led to a worst-case scenario in the region that I have long feared,” Mrs. Shaheen said. “ISIS fighters are now pouring out of prisons, the Assad regime and Russia are filling the security vacuum left by retreating U.S. troops, and our partners, the Syrian Democratic Forces, are experiencing a brutal onslaught.”

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.