Again, Trump threatens Turkey over Syria

President Trump and Erdogan. [Photo credit: The Hill]

President Donald Trump in a stern letter to the Turkish president last week warned that he could destroy Turkey’s economy if the ongoing military offensive Syria does not cease.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered a military action against Kurdish forces in northern Syria earlier this month. The move followed Mr Trump’s decision to pull American forces from Syria and abandon their Kurdish allies

Mr Trump has warned Turkey not to pursue the Kurdish forces, but the country said America’s withdrawal would leave the Turkey-Syria border unprotected from Kurdish rebels.

Turkey has long seen the Kurdish groups as terrorists and has blamed them for attacks within its territory.

Turkey, which like the United States is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation of military allies, dismissed Mr Trump’s warning and proceeded with offensive against the Kurds.

But in an October 9 letter to Mr Erdogan, Mr Trump evoked the verdict of history and threatened harsh consequences unless it ceases all hostilities.

“You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will,” Trump warned. “I’ve already given you a little sample with respect to Pastor Brunson.”

Andrew Brunson, an American, was held as a political prisoner in Turkey for two years starting in October 2016. Mr Trump helped security his release in amidst political and economic pressure on Turkey in October 2018.

“History will look upon you favourably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Mr Trump said in the letter first published by Fox News. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen.”

Mr Trump said a “great deal” could be achieved if he negotiated with the head of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Abdi, whom Turkey considered a “terrorist” for his reported ties to PKK militants in Turkey.

“Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool,” Mr Trump said, adding: “I will call you later.”

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