While it was initially reported that Erdogan would not meet with Obama during his five-day visit to the US capitol for a nuclear summit, later indications were that he would conduct a face-to-face with Vice President Joe Biden. Erdogan would also meet with Obama briefly for an informal "conversation."
This lack of formal diplomatic acknowledgement has been viewed as a sign of the strained relationship between Turkey and the US, driven by disagreements over Turkish Kurds and Erdogan’s increasingly tyrannical administration.
Speaking during a private dinner at the St. Regis Hotel on Tuesday, Erdogan made his own frustrations abundantly clear, blasting the Obama administration for backing the Kurds in the fight against Daesh, also known as IS/Islamic State.
"He kept coming back to the issue: Terrorists are terrorists – there are no good ones," said one attendee, speaking to Foreign Policy Magazine on condition of anonymity.
"He pretty much threw the [Obama] administration under the bus."
Erdogan also reportedly used the dinner to convince some of Washington’s leading political thinkers of the crucial role played by Turkey.
"The biggest message I heard from Erdogan was: 'You need us. You can’t win your war in Syria without us,'" said the attendee.
He spoke for roughly three hours, fielding questions.
"He didn’t get any nasty questions, but there were a few that if he were a thin-skinned politician, he would’ve melted down," said the attendee. "He wanted to speak directly to us and without a filter."
Speaking to Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear earlier this week, activist Kani Xulan described the source of US-Turkish frustrations.
"Unfortunately, the United States feels torn between Turkey and the Kurds. Turkey has the Incirlik Air Base and the Kurds are the boots on the ground, and the US needs both," Xulan said.
"So it wants to use both, if you will, and because of that, Turkey is very unhappy and the relationship has soured."
The Erdogan administration has also launched a harsh crackdown on press freedom. Most recently, Ankara shuttered Zaman, the country’s largest newspaper, over articles critical of the government.
"I think thousands of people are in courts directly because of insulting Erdogan," journalist Kemal Okuyan told Radio Sputnik.
As the Turkish president continues his visit, he will meet with the leaders of several Jewish organizations, speak during a meal hosted by the Atlantic Council, and attend an event at the Brookings Institution.