Trump threatens Turkey with economic devastation if it hits Kurds

14 January, 2019, 05:23 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar listens during a meeting with the commanders of military units on Syrian border in Sanliurfa southeastern Turkey Friday Jan. 11 2019. Akar on an unannounced visit to troops stationed near the Syrian border

His top diplomat Mike Pompeo is on a whirlwind regional tour aimed at reassuring allies amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Turkey over the fate of Washington's Syrian Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group. Washington and Ankara also sparred over the fate of American Presbyterian minister Andrew Brunson, who was convicted in Turkey of aiding terrorism, and who Ankara was forced to extradite after Trump exerted unprecedented economic pressure.

American-Turkish relations are far from tranquil and have frayed in the years following the July 2016 coup attempt against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which Ankara believes was masterminded by Fethullah Gulen, who is living in exile in Pennsylvania.

US Colonel Sean Ryan, a coalition spokesman, said the coalition "has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria".

The Kurds have sought Russian meditation for the talks with President Bashar al-Assad's government, part of their strategy to fill a vacuum that will be left when U.S. forces withdraw.

The US military, Trump promised, will still use an "existing nearby base", apparently in Iraq, to attack the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants if the terrorist organization re-emerges in Syria.

He did not say how Turkey's economy would suffer if it attacked the YPG.

Trump did not detail who would create, enforce or pay for the safe zone, or where it would be located.

Mr Trump also said that Russia, Iran and Syria had been the biggest beneficiaries of United States action in Syria and it was time to bring American soldiers home.

Bolton, who recently travelled to Israel to reassure the USA ally of the Trump-ordered withdrawal, said there was no stipulated time for the pullout of American forces in Syria, but insisted that it was not an "unlimited commitment".

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What has Mike Pompeo said?

Pompeo said Friday that Washington recognized "the Turkish people's right and Erdogan's right to defend their country from terrorists".

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

In Riyadh, the secretary of state is expected to discuss Iran and the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, US media report, as well as seeking an update on the investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mr Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Arabia's rulers, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul three months ago.

Mr Kalin also said: "It is a fatal mistake to equate Syrian Kurds with the PKK, which is on the United States terrorists list, and its Syria branch PYD/YPG". Since 2015, Russian forces have been supporting the Syrian army in its fight against terrorism.

Turkey's president wrote in a New York Times op-ed that Trump "made the right call".

Over the intervening years the number of U.S. troops in Syria has increased, and a network of bases and airfields has been established in an arc across the north-eastern part of the country.

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