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Engel Leads Bipartisan Effort Urging Trump to Rescind White House Invitation to Turkey’s Erdogan

Washington—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today led House members in pressing President Trump to rescind his invitation to Turkish President Erdogan to visit the White House. In a letter, the members underscored that Erdogan’s bloody campaign in Syria has destabilized the region and endangered U.S. national security.

“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. 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.

The letter was also signed by Representatives Gus M. Bilirakis, William R. Keating, Peter T. King, Adriano Espaillat, Susan Wild, Albio Sires, Ted Deutch, Colin Allred, Jim Costa, Gerald E. Connolly, Jamie Raskin, Brad Sherman, Juan Vargas, James P. McGovern, Dina Titus, and Ilhan Omar.

Full text can be found here and below:

Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our deep concern regarding the potential visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Washington. 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. 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.

President Erdogan’s calamitous actions in Syria follow a long list of disconcerting steps under his leadership. President Erdogan has pushed Turkey closer to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, purchasing the Russian S-400 air and missile defense system despite the threat that system poses to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and NATO interoperability, while rejecting the United States offer to sell Turkey the PATRIOT system instead. President Erdogan has also cooperated with Russia on the TurkStream gas pipeline, enabling Putin’s efforts to keep Europe dependent on Russian energy sources, and most recently agreed to an expanded Russian role in Syria. His aggressive actions in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone represent a violation of Cyprus’ right to develop its national resources. Domestically, President Erdogan has overseen a 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.

Importantly, the House of Representatives spoke clearly when it passed, on a bipartisan basis, H.J.Res. 77 on October 19 and the Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act on October 29, legislation which expressed our deep concerns about Turkish actions in northern Syria and would impose sanctions to press President Erdogan to cease its military action there.

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.

Sincerely,

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