Balance of Power: Trump’s Turkey Dilemma Isn’t Going Away

U.S. Signals Turkey Crisis Could Go on

All the displays of bonhomie between President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, couldn’t keep buried years of gathering resentment between Washington and Ankara.

Tensions between the two NATO allies burst into public view this week as the U.S. ambassador froze visa applications over Ankara’s efforts to detain Turkish staff at its diplomatic outposts. Turkey reciprocated, sending the lira tumbling. Erdogan has slammed the U.S. move as “very saddening,” saying “Turkey is a state of law, not a tribal state.”

While the White House and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have so far been silent, the episode belies Trump’s declaration just last month the countries were “as close as we’ve ever been.” Mistrust has been building over diverging military goals in Syria and Erdogan’s widening purge at home after an attempted coup last year. And with U.S. power in the region apparently in retreat, Turkey has been searching for new friends, from Russia to China and Iran.

There’s little sign of relief. An Istanbul prosecutor revealed yesterday another U.S. consular employee had been “invited” to testify.

Trump and Erdogan at the White House in Washington in May.
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

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And finally... Melania Trump broke with her usual reserve in a very public tussle with her husband’s first wife. Ivana Trump, who was married to the president from 1977 to 1992, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she has a “direct number” to Trump and offers him advice during regular chats, adding  “I’m basically first Trump wife. I’m first lady, OK?” Melania’s White House team dismissed the comments as “attention-seeking and self-serving noise” aimed at selling books. Ivana’s memoir chronicling her marriage to the president and messy divorce is out today.

Ivana Trump.
Photographer: Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images North America

— With assistance by Karl Maier

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