Washington and Ankara disagree sharply over how to wage war against Islamic State militants in Syria, with the U.S. backing Kurdish militias whom the Turks disdain as terrorists.
Although Tillerson sought to put the best face possible after the day’s drawn-out talks, it was clear no agreement was reached. He acknowledged that “difficult choices have to be made.”
“Let there be no mistake,” Tillerson told reporters after more than two hours behind closed doors with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “There is no space between Turkey and the United States in our commitment to defeat [Islamic State]. …
“There is more discussion yet to be had regarding the way forward,” Tillerson added. “They are difficult options, let me be very frank. These are not easy decisions.”
Tillerson is saying the things a SecState needs to say in a situation like this one, but really there is a great deal of space between Turkey and the United States — filled with Kurds whom Ankara would like to kill and whom we see as our strongest MidEast allies outside of Israel.