Trump sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday, saying the two politicians were not on the same page, particularly regarding U.S. policy towards Iran.
Turkey has allied with Russia and Iran in Syria as it seeks to eradicate what it says is the threat to its security posed by Kurdish fighters who are allied with the United States in the battle against Islamic State (ISIS). Washington says a Turkish military operation in northern Syria is detracting from the campaign against ISIS and threatens a humanitarian disaster.
NATO member Turkey has also angered the United States by cosying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin and ordering Russian S-400 air defence missiles from Russian companies on the U.S. sanctions list.
Turkey’s apparent turn from the West and Erdoğan’s increasing authoritarianism have prompted some U.S. senators and government officials to call for sanctions on Ankara. Fraught relations have been exacerbated by Turkey’s incarceration of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson on charges of involvement in the coup attempt.
On Tuesday, senior U.S. General Joseph Votel said Russia was to blame for recent tensions with Turkey. Putin is fueling discord among parties in the region, and with the United States and Turkey in particular, Votel told a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.