Turkey's Erdogan Is Not a U.S. Ally, Former Diplomat Warns After Leader Threatens to Send ISIS Fighters to Europe

President Donald Trump is hosting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington on Wednesday, despite frosty relations between their two nations and the latter's recent threats against America's European allies.

The meeting has prompted bipartisan consternation given Erdogan's ongoing attack on U.S. allies in northeastern Syria and the fact that the last time the Turkish strongman visited the U.S. 18 months ago, his bodyguards attacked peaceful protesters.

President of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass told MSNBC Wednesday that the U.S. should not want a relationship with an authoritarian leader like Erdogan, and warned that Trump's apparent instinct to ingratiate himself with strongmen will be a smear on his presidency.

On Tuesday, Erdogan threatened to send foreign members of the Islamic State militant group back to Europe if their home nations—including some of Turkey's NATO allies—refused to take custody of them.

Both Erdogan and Trump have been frustrated that European countries will not take back their citizens, leaving them stuck in limbo in detention and refugee camps in Syria.

"You should revise your stance toward Turkey, which at the moment holds so many [ISIS] members in prison and at the same time controls those in Syria," Erdogan said, according to The Associated Press.

"These gates will open and these [ISIS] members who have started to be sent to you will continue to be sent," he continued. "Then you can take care of your own problem."

Haass told MSNBC that "as a country, we just simply don't want a relationship with this guy."

Haass, a former director of policy planning at the State Department and close adviser to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, added that the Turkish president's threat "tells you all you need to know about Erdogan."

"The idea that somebody would threaten to release terrorists if he doesn't get his way, that just shows you you are not on the same page—he's not an ally in practice," Haass added. "So just start accepting that reality."

Trump is seemingly drawn to authoritarian leaders, keen to meet them and build up personal relationships. Since coming to office, Trump has spoken in glowing terms of figures like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

But the president has simultaneously undermined relationships with democratic leaders of America's traditional allies. For example, he has maligned Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Trump also seems instinctively opposed to multilateralism, be it NATO, NAFTA, the European Union, the Paris climate accord or the World Trade Organization.

Haass said his meeting with Erdogan "is part of a larger pattern of this administration's foreign policy [of] cozying up to authoritarians that don't have the interests of the United States at heart."

"Why is it we're so much closer to these countries that are pursuing agendas that are anathema to us, and why are we so distant from our traditional allies?" Haass asked.

Haass predicted that future historians would also be grappling with these questions. "It's that departure, it's the downgrading of allies, it's the cozying up to authoritarians that simply won't compute."

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President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan on June 29, 2019. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images/Getty