In an extraordinary letter sent to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week, President Donald Trump warned that he could destroy Turkey’s economy if the situation in Syria is not contained and resolved in a humane way, CNN has confirmed.
The tone of the letter is consistent with Trump’s unconventional approach to diplomacy, particularly when dealing with strongman leaders, as he tells Erdogan: “Let’s work out a good deal” and “Don’t be a fool!”
But it’s striking to see a US President use such language. Trump also warned his Turkish counterpart not to “be a tough guy!”
The letter is dated October 9 – three days after the two leaders had spoken by phone – the same day the Turkish incursion into Syria began, a detail that raises more questions about what Trump said the Erdogan as compared to the contents of his written correspondence.
“Don’t let the world down,” Trump wrote, adding that the Kurds are willing to negotiate and willing to “make concessions that they never would have made in the past.”
Trump ends by saying, “History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way.” He warns that history will look at Erdogan “forever as the devil if good things don’t happen.”
The letter was first reported by Fox Business.
Trump’s letter is dated just days after he had spoken to Erdogan by phone on October 6. That conversation was followed by an announcement from the White House that Turkey would soon begin a military offensive and US forces would not be involved in the operation.
“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” a White House statement said at the time. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”
US pulling out troops from Syria
A week after the call, on Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that Trump had ordered the remaining US troops out of northern Syria.
“We have American forces likely caught between two opposing, advancing armies and it’s a very untenable situation. I spoke with the President last night, after discussions with the rest of the national security team, and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria,” Esper said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “Which is where most of our forces are.”