Turkey’s Erdoğan showed propaganda film about Kurds during White House meeting: report

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reportedly took out an iPad to show President Trump and a group of Republican senators a propaganda film about Kurdish-led forces during a White House meeting on Wednesday.

Axios, citing three unidentified sources familiar with the meeting, reported that Erdoğan displayed the film as he met with lawmakers who have been outspoken in their opposition of Turkey’s recent invasion in northern Syria. The film reportedly depicted the Kurdish YPG, which leads the Syrian Democratic Forces, and the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, as terrorists.

{mosads}The film left senators in the Oval Office meeting unpersuaded, and many of them reportedly took turns pushing back against the narrative that the film tried to present. 

“Do you want me to go get the Kurds to make one about what you’ve done?” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said when the film concluded, Axios, citing a source, reported. 

The news outlet noted that Graham got into a heated dispute with Erdoğan over the Turkish military’s invasion in Syria. Erdoğan reportedly took issue with Graham’s use of the term “invasion.” Graham also pushed back against Erdogan’s claim that the country had contributed to the fight against ISIS, according to Axios. 

Graham confirmed the quarrel to Axios, saying he “forcefully” rejected the “Turkish narrative that they have done more to destroy ISIS.”

“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,” Graham said. 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. 

Trump has faced major bipartisan scrutiny since he abruptly announced last month that he would remove roughly 1,000 troops from northern Syria ahead of a planned Turkish invasion. U.S. troops deployed in the region had worked closely with the Kurdish YPG. 

Turkey considers the Kurdish-led forces, which have proved to be the U.S.’s most effective allies in its fight against ISIS, to be a terrorist insurgency. 

While Graham stated that the U.S. would not abandon the Kurds, Trump has said that Turkey’s offensive in Syria “has nothing to do with us.” He’s also downplayed the U.S. alliance with the group, saying in mid-October that Kurds are “no angels.”

During a press conference alongside Erdoğan on Wednesday, Trump said that the administration’s decision to leave some U.S. troops in Syria was “only for the oil.”

A senior administration official told Axios that the group of senators invited to the Oval Office meeting included Republicans who have voiced issues with Turkey’s purchase of a Russian-made S-400 missile defense system. 

Every senator in the room reportedly agreed that the U.S. would not sell F-35 fighter jets to Ankara if it continued to deploy or procure the missile system. 

U.S. law mandates sanctioning countries who do business with Russia’s defense industry. Trump has yet to announce sanctions over Turkey’s purchase of the S-400. 

Tags Donald Trump Lindsey Graham

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