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Turkey: The Crucial Anti-ISIS Ally That Trump … Forgot?

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The daily beast Columnist ROY GUTMAN published an article on Turkey.

Donald Trump has picked fights with most of America’s closest allies and upset the world with his visa suspension for seven Muslim-majority stories. He’s also rattled sabers at North Korea and Iran.  But for Turkey, a NATO ally on the front lines of the fight against ISIS, his biggest offense may be that he hasn’t bothered to call.

If and when he does, he’ll have a lot to discuss with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s strongman president, for Trump has made destruction of the so-called Islamic State terror group his top national security goal, and Turkey has troops on the ground in Syria fighting ISIS. But the areas of disagreement are growing.

Erdogan vehemently opposes the term “radical Islamic terrorism” that Trump uses regularly. The indefinite ban on Syrian refugees announced Jan. 27 shocked Turks, who now host three million Syrians. The recent delivery of armored personnel carriers to northern Syria to benefit Kurdish forces fighting ISIS is viewed as a threat to Turkey’s security.

But Erdogan has held his tongue.

Whenever the call comes, and Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Saturday it could be any day, Turkey clearly isn’t high on Trump’s dance card.

This comes as a surprise to some, since both sides had earlier signaled a desire to repair the rift that opened between the two countries under the Obama administration.

Just after Trump’s victory, Ret. Gen. Michael Flynn, who’s now National Security Adviser, called for removing Fetullah Gülen, a retired cleric whom Erdogan blames for an abortive coup last summer, from his refuge in Pennsylvania’s Poconos mountains. And Erdogan sent his foreign minister to Trump’s Inauguration, where he met Flynn and other members of Trump’s national security team.

But starting with Trump’s Inaugural address, in which he pledged to eradicate “radical Islamic terrorism…from the face of the Earth,” his real intentions have come into question in majority Muslim nations, especially secular states like Turkey, which take umbrage at his rhetoric.

When German Chancellor Angela Merkel used a more nuanced phrase than Trump in Ankara on Thursday, referring to “the fight against Islamist terrorism,”  Erdogan rebuked her publicly.

“The ‘Islamist terror’ expression gravely saddens us as Muslims,” he said. “Such an expression cannot be used. It is not right because Islam and terror don’t go side by side.  Islam literally means peace.”

Turks were infuriated by the Jan. 27 executive order blocking all refugees for four months, Syrian refugees indefinitely, and refugees from six other Muslim majority countries for three months.

“All of the countries…on the list are crisis spots in their region and face systematic slaughter, massacres and violence, as well as human rights violations,” said Yasin Aktay, the deputy chairman of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party. “There’s only one word for those that shut their doors to people …fleeing such places and seeking shelter.  That word is ‘racist,’” he said.

Then there was Trump’s Jan. 28 executive order instructing the Pentagon to produce a plan within 30 days to destroy ISIS.

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