'Sultan' Erdogan Was Bound to 'Fall Out of Obama's Favor'

© AFP 2022 / JIM WATSONUS President Barack Obama (R) greets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prior to a meeting at the US Chief of Mission’s residence in Paris on December 1, 2015.
US President Barack Obama (R) greets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prior to a meeting at the US Chief of Mission’s residence in Paris on December 1, 2015. - Sputnik International
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Barack Obama's brief meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit has given additional credence to the theory that Washington and Ankara appear to be on a collision course, but this trend, according to the An-Nahar newspaper, is hardly surprising since it has been years in the making.

Ankara's crackdown on the Kurds within its own borders and beyond, the Lebanese daily maintains, is the key issue that has poisoned relations between the US and one of its key allies in the Middle East.

"Erdogan caused Washington's discontent when he prevented Kurdish fighters from entering Kobane to help their comrades, who scored the first major victory against the terrorists," the newspaper noted. The US was forced to provide aerial assistance to the Kurds in the embattled Syrian border city.

Likewise, Washington was not happy with Erdogan's plan to create buffer zones in Syria. "Erdogan saw it as an opportunity to block any Kurdish activities aimed at creating autonomy," the An-Nahar newspaper explained.

© AFP 2022 / ARIS MESSINISTurkish soldiers on a tank sit opposite the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane by the Kurds, at the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Turkish village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province (File)
Turkish soldiers on a tank sit opposite the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane by the Kurds, at the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Turkish village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province (File) - Sputnik International
Turkish soldiers on a tank sit opposite the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane by the Kurds, at the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Turkish village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province (File)

The Kurdish issue is not the only challenge. Other points of contention, plaguing bilateral relations, involve the Syrian conflict and the ways to resolve it, as well as Turkey's dismal record when it comes to the freedom of the press.

Even before "Russia launched its military campaign in Syria it became evident that Erdogan was focused on the fight against the Kurds, not Daesh terrorists, who, if Moscow is to be trusted, sell oil to Ankara," the newspaper noted.

An-Nahar maintains that the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian bomber over Syrian territory in response to Moscow bombing Daesh oil trucks that were headed to Turkey.

"No wonder that Erdogan has fallen out of Obama's favor," the newspaper concluded.

© AP Photo / Omer KuscuTurkish journalists gathered to protest against the jailing of opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper's editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara representative Erdem Gul, in Istanbul, December 2015.
Turkish journalists gathered to protest against the jailing of opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper's editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara representative Erdem Gul, in Istanbul, December 2015. - Sputnik International
Turkish journalists gathered to protest against the jailing of opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper's editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara representative Erdem Gul, in Istanbul, December 2015.

On Friday, Barack Obama voiced concern over the approach that Turkish authorities have taken towards the press, saying that Erdogan should pursue democracy, "rather than a strategy that involves repression of information and shutting down democratic debate."

December 1, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the concluding news conference in Ankara - Sputnik International
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The "Sultan," as the newspaper referred to the Turkish president, retorted by accusing Obama of going behind his back. "I was saddened to hear that statement made behind my back. During my talk with Obama, those issues did not come up," Erdogan told reporters.

The Turkish president added that comments with regard to the freedom of the press in the country are meant to "divide, shatter and if they could, swallow up Turkey."

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