Turkey’s bombshell deal with Russia

 

MOSCOW and Ankara are close to reaching a deal on a sale of Russian-made Sukhoi SU-35 fighter jets to Turkey, and for some of the components of the planes to be co-manufactured.

The revelation comes two months after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the International Aviation and Space Salon aviation show near Moscow.

During that visit Erdogan was shown the Su-35 fighter jets.

Turkey could buy as many of 36 jets.

Turkey has been at odds with the United States over its purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems, which Washington says are not compatible with NATO defences and poses a threat to Lockheed Martin's F-35 'stealth' fighter jets.

The United States has also expelled Turkey from the F-35 program, but Ankara has so far dismissed the warnings.

That news comes after a fresh disagreement between Erdogan and Donald Trump broke out.

New York Post reports, Erdogan demanded President Trump "hand over" the leader of a Kurdish militia who has been invited to testify before Congress, as the crisis in war-torn Syria deepens.

 

urkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during an interview with Turkey's state television, TRT, in Istanbul. Picture: AP
urkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during an interview with Turkey's state television, TRT, in Istanbul. Picture: AP

"He is a terrorist with the code name Mazloum," Erdogan told state broadcaster TRT late on Thursday, according to Bloomberg. "America needs to hand over this man to us."

Erdogan made the demand on Turkish state television just hours after Trump praised the head of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Abdi.

"I really enjoyed my conversation with General @MazloumAbdi. He appreciates what we have done, and I appreciate what the Kurds have done," Trump tweeted Thursday. "Perhaps it is time for the Kurds to start heading to the Oil Region!"

The SDF was a key ally in the U.S. battle against ISIS in northern Syria in recent years, but Erdogan considers them a threat because they have links to Kurdish separatists fighting for their own homeland in Turkey.

President Donald Trump has praised the head of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Abdi. Picture: AP
President Donald Trump has praised the head of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Abdi. Picture: AP

Leading Democrats and Republicans have fiercely criticised Trump's October decision to have American troops stand aside and allow Erdogan to launch an offensive targeting the Kurds.

Despite Trump's decision, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are trying to maintain America's ties with the Kurds.

A bipartisan group of senators have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to help secure a visa for Abdi to visit the U.S. and discuss the way forward in Syria.

Part of this report originally appeared in the New York Post and are republished here with permission.