Erdoğan shows surprise video about SDF leader during Washington meeting
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, during his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump and several U.S. senators on Thursday, showed a video likening the commander of Syrian Kurdish forces to the slain leader of the Islamic State (ISIS), Axios news site reported.
Turkey earlier reacted angrily to the U.S. invitation Mazloum Kobani, the leader of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to visit Washington. And, Turkey wanted Kobani extradited by the United States to face terrorism charges.
"Erdoğan apparently thought he could sway these senators by forcing them to watch a clunky propaganda film," Axios said. And, the video was not effective, the news site said, citing a source who was in the room.
Turkey sees the SDF and its affiliates as offshoots of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil. Trump’s Oct. 6 decision this month to withdraw U.S. troops from the country prompted a Turkish cross-border offensive against the Kurdish-led group.
"Well, do you want me to go get the Kurds to make one about what you've done?" Senator Lindsey Graham said after watching the video.
Graham, a close ally of Trump, is known for his concerns about Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops in Syria. He introduced draft sanction package targeting Turkey following Turkey's incursion in northeast Syria.
Erdoğan got into a fiery debate with the U.S. senator over Turkey's recent incursion after Graham used the word "invasion" about the offensive, according to Axios. Graham also countered Erdoğan when he said that Turkey had fought ISIS.
"The Turkish narrative that they have done more to destroy ISIS, I rejected forcefully, and I let Turkey know that 10,000 SDF fighters, mostly Kurds, suffered, died or injured, in the fight against ISIS, and America will not forget that and will not abandon them," Axios quoted Graham as saying.
Following the discussion, Erdoğan asked Trump whether he could speak at the U.S. Congress regarding the issue, saying that U.S. senators have prejudgments, according to Turkish news site Gazete Duvar.
"Dear President, if you agree, I can address the Congress. Let's talk about this at the Congress so that they can hear it from us personally. It would be much more accurate," Duvar quoted Erdoğan as saying.