US general in key Turkey visit to highlight strong military ties
United States European Commander Gen. Curtis Michael Scaparrotti held meetings with Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Chief of Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler on Aug. 1 amid growing tension between the two countries over the continued detention of pastor Andrew Brunson.
Gen. Scaparrotti will highlight their strong military relationship with Turkey in his key visit to the Turkish capital this week, his office announced.
“U.S. European Commander, General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, will meet with Turkish military counterparts this week in Ankara, Turkey to discuss a variety of defense matters, while highlighting the strong U.S. and Turkey mil-to-mil relationship,” a press release issued by the EUCOM said late July 31.
Scaparrotti paid a courtesy visit to Akar for his new role, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
The U.S. commander is scheduled to visit U.S. forces at the İncirlik Air Base in southern Turkey and participate as the keynote speaker for the Allied Land Command (LANDCOM) Change of Command ceremony in the Aegean province of İzmir in his role as the NATO Supreme Allied Commander (SACEUR) following his engagement in Ankara.
His visit comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence had threatened Turkey with sanctions if Brunson does not get released, further straining already fragile relations.
Brunson was arrested in December 2016 on terror charges.
The U.S. Congress has also tried to halt the sales of F-35 jets, citing the arrests of U.S. citizens in Turkey and Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems as reasons.
Kalın: Tension should not affect Manbij process
Turkey expects that the current tension with the U.S. should not negatively affect the Manbij road map, and so far it has not caused such an affect, presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said at a press conference late July 31.
So far, Ankara has not seen such steps taken and the Manbij process is being implemented as it was planned before, he said, replying to a question on whether the current strain between Ankara and Washington could affect the cooperation in Syria regarding the town of Manbij.
The communication for the Manbij road map is conducted between the soldiers of the U.S. and Turkey, including dialogue of Turkish defense minister and the chief of general staff with their counterparts, he added.
Çavuşoğlu to meet Pompeo in Singapore
While other issues are fueling tension in bilateral ties, progress is being achieved between the two NATO allies regarding cooperation in northern Syria.
A road map for the stabilization of Manbij was announced following a meeting between Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in June.
The agreement envisages the withdrawal of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Manbij and on stability in the region. As part of the mutual agreement, both U.S. and Turkish armies have been conducting patrols in the region since June 18. Some YPG members have retreated to checkpoints.
Çavuşoğlu and Pompeo are expected to have a meeting on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers’ meeting this week.