Defense

Bipartisan House members call on Trump to rescind Erdoğan invitation

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is asking President Trump to rescind his White House invitation to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Erdoğan is scheduled to visit the White House on Wednesday. But the lawmakers expressed “deep concern” at the planned trip, citing Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria.

{mosads}“President Erdogan’s decision to invade northern Syria on October 9 has had disastrous consequences for U.S. national security, has led to deep divisions in the NATO alliance, and caused a humanitarian crisis on the ground,” they wrote in a letter to Trump publicly released Monday.

“Given this situation, we believe that now is a particularly inappropriate time for President Erdogan to visit the United States, and we urge you to rescind this invitation,” the lawmakers added in the letter dated Nov. 8.

The letter was organized by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). Two of the co-signers are Republicans: Reps. Gus Bilirakis (Fla.) and Peter King (N.Y.), who announced his retirement earlier Monday.

The other co-signers are Democrats: Reps. Bill Keating (Mass.), Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.), Susan Wild (Pa.), Albio Sires (N.J.), Ted Deutch (Fla.), Colin Allred (Texas), Jim Costa (Calif.), Gerry Connolly (Va.), Jamie Raskin (Md.), Brad Sherman (Calif.), Juan Vargas (Calif.), Jim McGovern (Mass.), Dina Titus (Nev.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.), who came under fire for voting present on a Armenian genocide resolution and voting against a Turkey sanctions bill.

Both the Armenian genocide resolution and the sanctions bill were fiercely opposed by Turkey but passed the House with large bipartisan majorities.

Lawmakers have been fuming since Trump announced in October he would withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, paving the way for Turkey’s long-threatened offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces.

In addition to the sanctions and Armenian genocide votes, the House passed a resolution opposing Trump’s withdrawal and calling on stop Turkey to “immediately cease unilateral military action” in northeast Syria.

“Turkish forces have killed civilians and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a critical U.S. partner in the fight against ISIS, and displaced over one hundred thousand people from their homes in northern Syria,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to Trump.

In addition to Erdoğan’s “calamitous actions” in Syria, the lawmakers cited a “long list of disconcerting steps” he has taken.

The letter listed Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, cooperation with Russia on the TurkStream gas pipeline and unauthorized gas drilling in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone.

The lawmakers also slammed Erdoğan’s “systematic rollback of democratic institutions in Turkey, concentrating all political power in his person, persecuting political opponents and peaceful protestors, and imprisoning journalists in shocking numbers.”

“His imprisonment of innocent American citizens and local staff from the U.S. Embassy is especially egregious,” they wrote.

Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, said in an interview Sunday that Trump would confront Erdoğan about the S-400 purchase during the visit.

“We’re very upset about that,” O’Brien said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“There’s no place in NATO for significant Russian military purchases,” O’Brien added. “That’s a message that the president will deliver to him very clearly when he’s here in Washington.”

Under a law known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, the administration is required to impose sanctions on those who do business with the Russian defense industry, but Trump has yet to levy sanctions on Turkey for the S-400. 

Tags Adriano Espaillat Albio Sires Bill Keating Brad Sherman Colin Allred Dina Titus Donald Trump Eliot Engel Gerry Connolly Ilhan Omar Jamie Raskin Jim Costa Juan Vargas Susan Wild Ted Deutch
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