The Turkish president said he did not consider calling his U.S. counterpart, revealing his resentment over the current state of relationship with President Donald J. Trump, whom he once held in a high regard.
“I don’t consider calling him at the moment. Because we talked this before and he was supposed to call me. Unless he gets back to me, I would never [call] him [again],” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.
“We talked to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin two or three days ago. Our phone diplomacy is continuing,” he said, pointing to the level of close dialogue between the Turkish and Russian leaders.
Turkey has been deeply enraged by a U.S. plan to form a new force in northern Syria. The revelation of a coalition initiative, first reported by The Defense Post, to establish a 30,000-strong force to protect borders with Iraq and Turkey has added a new layer of friction into the already strained ties between Ankara and Washington.
President Erdogan assailed the U.S. for forming an “army of terror” on Turkey’s border. Speaking to The Defense Post, the coalition spokesman said half of the force will be constituted by veteran fighters of Syrian Defense Forces (SDF).
A Turkish military operation against Kurdish-held Afrin is imminent, the Turkish leader has said over the past few days, while the Turkish military sent additional artillery units, tanks and armored vehicles to the Syrian border.
Other Syrian rebel forces and armed opposition groups will take part in the Turkish operation, President Erdogan noted on Tuesday.