Trump Threatens Ally With 'Economic Devastation'

He says Turkey will face consequences if it hits Kurds
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2019 5:46 AM CST
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu talks to the media during a joint news conference with Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn following their meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Jan. 14,...   (Cem Ozdel/Turkish Foreign Ministry via AP, Pool)
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(Newser) – The "long overdue" American withdrawal from Syria has begun, President Trump said in a tweet Sunday before casually threatening to destroy the economy of a NATO ally. Trump said the US will hit ISIS hard from an "existing nearby base" if it tries to rebuild its caliphate—and will "devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds," Politico reports. The president also called for the creation of a 20-mile safe zone and added: "Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey." He said: "Iran and Syria have been the biggest beneficiaries of the long term U.S. policy of destroying ISIS in Syria - natural enemies. We also benefit but it is now time to bring our troops back home."

The fate of America's Kurdish military partners in Syria, who are considered terrorists by Turkey, was one of the biggest concerns when the US pullout was first announced last month. The BBC reports that top Turkish officials dismissed Trump's threat Monday. "We have said multiple times that we will not fear or be deterred by any threat," said Mevlut Cavusoglu, the country's foreign minister. "You can get nowhere by threatening Turkey economically." He added: "Strategic alliances should not be discussed over Twitter or social media." (In a recent speech, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed former President Obama for the region's problems.)

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