Top US commander to visit Turkish capital amid regional tensions
AFP photoThe United States’ top commander will pay a visit to Ankara on Jan. 5 for a meeting with his Turkish counterpart amid heightened regional tensions.
Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, will visit Ankara on Jan. 5 and meet with Chief of Turkish General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar at the headquarters of the Turkish General Staff, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Jan. 4, citing anonymous sources.
The fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and developments in northern Syria will be at the top of the meeting’s agenda, a Turkish source told Hürriyet Daily News.
Ankara will convey unease over the movement of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) to the west of the Euphrates River in northern Syria, sources added.
An alliance of Kurdish and Arab rebels, including the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whom predominantly hail from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), advanced Dec. 24, 2015, against ISIL in Syria’s north in a new offensive backed by U.S.-led air strikes.
The visit by the highest-ranking military officer in Turkey’s NATO ally country comes at a time when Saudi Arabia, also a U.S. ally, has severed diplomatic ties with regional rival Iran following vociferous demonstrations in front of the kingdom’s embassy and consulate in the Islamic republic over the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced the cessation in relations late on Jan. 3 and gave Iranian diplomatic personnel 48 hours to leave the country. All Saudi diplomatic personnel in Iran were called home following the violent demonstrations in front of the kingdom’s embassy in Tehran and a consulate in Mashhad.
After being chosen for the post by U.S. President Barack Obama in May 2015, the U.S. Senate confirmed then-Marine General Dunford as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in July 2015. The Senate confirmed Dunford by unanimous consent.