US President Donald Trump urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to make a deal with the Syrian Kurds in a letter, warning history will condemn him as “the devil” and the US will destroy Turkey’s economy if he refuses.
“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 threatened in the letter, dated October 9.
The US president implores Erdogan to “make a great deal” with the Syrian Democratic Forces, noting Kurdish General Mazloum Kobani Abdi is “willing to make concessions that they never would have made in the past.”
Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!
“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way,” Trump promises, accompanying that carrot with another stick. “It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen.”
Trump has repeatedly threatened Turkey with the destruction of its economy, warning that if Ankara does anything Washington considers “off limits,” his wrath will be unleashed. The threats against the NATO ally have carried forward as Vice President Mike Pence prepares to meet with Erdogan on Thursday – if the meeting is unsuccessful, “sanctions and tariffs and other things” will follow.
Turkey has insisted its quarrel is not with the Kurds as a people but with the Kurdish militias it considers to be terrorist groups. Erdogan has thus far ignored the pleas of the US and its European allies, several of whom have curtailed weapons sales to Turkey in protest of its military operation in Syria, pressing forward to create a so-called “safe zone” 30km within its neighbor’s territory.
While the Kurds – those fighting for the SDF, at least – are considered US allies, Trump has called the Kurdish separatist militia PKK “more of a terrorist threat in many ways, than ISIS,” echoing Ankara’s assessment. Referring to the matter as “a semi-complicated problem,” he acknowledged “paying a lot of money to the Kurds” and said he warned a Kurdish general not to “let ISIS out to create havoc” – but seemed to want to wash his hands of the whole thing, leaving Turkey to work out who were terrorists and who were not.
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