Trump threatens to devastate Turkey's economy if it attacks Kurds

Frederick Owens
January 14, 2019

In two tweets on Sunday, Mr Trump said that he didn't want the Kurds to provoke Turkey either.

US support for a Syrian-led Kurdish militia known as the People's Protection Units that Turkey considers a foe is the source of one rift.

Donald Trump has warned its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally to beware of the devastative wrath of USA economic pressure if Turkey dares to attack the Kurdish allies America is leaving behind in its "long overdue" pull-out of troops from Syria.

The US withdrawal has begun with shipments of military equipment, US defence officials said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been touring the Middle East this week to reassure allies of Washington's commitment to regional security, said on Saturday he was "optimistic" a way could be found to protect Syrian Kurds while allowing Turks to defend their country despite a US pullout from Syria.

"The lasting defeat of ISIS is still the mission and they still present a very real threat to the long-term stability in this region, so it is not over yet".

Pompeo said Trump considers the kingdom a "key ally" for the US and their partnership will keep going. Erdogan has been massing Turkish troops on the Syrian border for weeks, preparing for an invasion to eradicate Kurdish forces that the USA has vowed to protect.

"We find correct his statement about the removal of the elements that concern Turkey", Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a speech in the southern Turkish province of Antalya.

"We also know that those fighting alongside us for all this time deserve to be protected as well", he added.

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The fight to eliminate the remaining pockets of ISIS has been shaken by US President Donald Trump's shock December announcement that he is withdrawing US troops from Syria.

Relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have been strained over U.S. backing for the Kurdish YPG, which Turkey views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) waging a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil.

But Mr Trump attempted to reassure both Syrian Kurds and observers anxious about a potential ISIS resurgence, saying USA troops would remain across the border in Iraq to enforce a 20 mile safe zone.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed Sunday that Israel had struck hundreds of Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria over the weekend, including a weapons facility, as the Israeli Defense Forces announced the discovery of a sixth and final tunnel dug by the Lebanese militant group for cross-border attacks.

Russia, which has deployed forces into Syria in support of the Damascus regime, said it had the impression that the United States wanted to stay despite the announced withdrawal of USA troops, RIA news agency reported.

"Although we made a clear agreement with U.S. President Trump, different voices are emerging from different parts of the administration", Erdogan said as Bolton prepared to leave town after meeting other Turkish officials.

The tunnel would be destroyed in the coming days, Conricus said, adding that while more tunnels still existed on the Lebanese side of the border, this effectively marked the end of the ambitious military operation.

"We stand to lose our way of life, we also stand to lose our property and our livelihood", said Ishak.

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