The Guardian reports: US vice-president Joe Biden on Saturday warned that a concentration of powers under a head of state was “corrosive” as he visited Turkey – which has been accused of increasing authoritarian tendencies.
Biden made the remarks before meeting Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who in August became the Turkish president after more than a decade as prime minister. Critics have accused Erdogan of seeking to centralise powers in a powerful presidency, which until he took office was largely a ceremonial role.
At a joint news conference held after a four-hour talks session, Biden said he and Erdogan had discussed a transition of power in Syria, away from President Bashar al-Assad. [Continue reading…]
McClatchy adds: Biden’s visit here also brought forth the first signs of policy convergence. Midway through the discussion here, the Turkish government disclosed that it is willing to train and equip Iraqi government forces, a dramatic shift to support Iraq’s new leadership of Prime Minister Haider Abadi after years of tensions with his predecessor, Nouri al Maliki. Turkey also disclosed it is training Peshmerga militias under control of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
This all seemed to have come about as part of the preparations for the Biden talks. Davutoglu pledged to train and assist national guard units that Abadi is setting up to fight the Islamic State, the Turkish official said. “We are always ready to give any kind of contribution” to the Iraqi authorities, added the official, who disclosed the policy changes on condition he not be identified by name.
Before returning to meet with Biden, Davutgoglu visited Irbil, the capital of the largely autonomous Kurdish region, and a camp where Turkey has already begun training Peshmerga forces, the official said. Just a few years ago, Turkey and the KRG were frequently at loggerheads over the KRG’s willingness to host armed Turkish separatists who were at war with the Turkish state.
Biden’s visit to Istanbul was his first since the blow-up last month that followed his public criticism of Turkey for “contributing to the rise” of the Islamic State. Erdogan said if Biden didn’t apologize for his remarks, he will be “history to me.” [Continue reading…]