Trump threatens to devastate Turkey if it hits US-backed Kurdish forces
Washington, January 14
President Donald Trump has threatened to “devastate” Turkey economically if the NATO-allied nation attacks US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria following a pullout of American troops from the war-torn country, and also urged the Kurds not to “provoke” Ankara.
Last month, President Trump surprised the world by announcing that he is withdrawing 2,000 American troops from Syria. The pullout began last week.
The US troop withdrawal has left America’s Kurdish allies vulnerable to an attack from Turkey. Ankara views the Kurdish forces as terrorists aligned with insurgents inside Turkey.
Trump also warned ISIS that America would hit them hard from nearby military bases if it regained momentum.
“Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms,” the President said in a tweet.
“Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20-mile safe zone….Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey,” Trump said in a hard-hitting tweet on Sunday.
Trump’s tweet is a stark threat towards an ally in the region that has partnered with the US in the fight against ISIS.
Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit out at US National Security Adviser John Bolton for saying the US withdrawal was contingent upon Turkey’s pledge not to attack US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria once troops left.
“Bolton made a serious mistake. If he thinks that way, he is in a big mistake. We will not compromise,” Erdogan said.
The Pentagon has said that there is no timeline for US troop withdrawal and it would be based on ground realties.
“Russia, Iran and Syria have been the biggest beneficiaries of the long-term US policy of destroying ISIS in Syria–natural enemies. We also benefit but it is now time to bring our troops back home. Stop the ENDLESS WARS!” Trump said.
His announcement has come following a visit to the region by Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“The roughly 2,000 uniformed soldiers that are in Syria today are going to be withdrawn. That activity is under way. We’re going to do so in an orderly, deliberate way, a way that protects America’s national security, a way that allows us to continue the important mission that they were on,” Pompeo told CBS News in an interview on Sunday.
“The counterterrorism mission, the effort to make sure that the destruction of ISIS is not only complete but that their resurgence is not possible, our efforts to counter the threat from terrorism stemming from the Islamic Republic of Iran– those are all real missions. The tactical change we’ve made in the withdrawal of those 2,000 troops is just that, a tactical change,” he said.
Noting that the mission remains the same, Pompeo said Turkish leadership had made it clear that it understood there are people down in Syria that had their rights.