Intel: Erdogan, Trump talk coronavirus

al-monitor Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) meets with US President Donald Trump during the NATO summit in London, UK, Dec. 4, 2019. Photo by Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press Office/REUTERS.
Bryant Harris

Bryant Harris

@brykharris_ALM

Topics covered

covid-19, us-turkish relations, donald trump, recep tayyip erdogan, pandemic, coronavirus

Mar 31, 2020

US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the COVID-19 crisis by phone today, the White House announced.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said that they “discussed ongoing efforts to combat the coronavirus in the United States and Turkey. The two leaders agreed to work closely together on the international campaign to defeat the virus and bolster the global economy.”

Trump and Erdogan also discussed the conflicts in Syria and Libya and the need for both countries to “adhere to cease-fires and work toward resolution.” Turkey has committed ground troops to both conflicts.

Why it matters:  The United States has the most coronavirus infections in the world with nearly 162,000 recorded cases and more than 3,000 deaths. The pandemic is also increasingly severe in Turkey, which has the 12th most infections in the world with nearly 13,531 recorded cases and 214 deaths so far.

Vast swathes of both countries are on an extended lockdown and Washington and Ankara have each faced criticism for their respective responses to the crisis. The United States has come under fire for the slow rate of testing while the Turkish government has been accused of obfuscating the number of cases and failing to disclose what regions have been hardest hit by COVID-19.

What’s next:  Parliamentarians from Turkey’s Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party are planning an “alternative” coronavirus task force that they say will better inform the public about the extent of the pandemic in Turkey. They argue that distrust of the Turkish government has dissuaded people from social distancing in Kurdish-majority areas, where curfews have been in place since 2015 because of the ongoing military conflict with the Kurdistan Workers Party.

Know more:  Ayla Jean Yackley takes an in-depth look at the quarantines Turkey is instating while Kadri Gursel details Ankara’s lack of transparency over the epidemic. And Bryant Harris reports on the nearly $40 million in coronavirus and humanitarian aid that Washington is touting for the Middle East as the crisis unfolds.