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Trump threatens to 'obliterate' Turkish economy

Local | 2019-10-07 20:58:00
Trump threatens to 'obliterate' Turkish economy
President Donald Trump has threatened to destroy Turkey's economy if Turkey goes "off limits" after his decision to pull US forces out of north-eastern Syria.

In a series of tweets, Mr Trump defended his move that could open the way for Turkey to launch an attack on Kurdish fighters across the border.

The withdrawal was heavily criticised even by Mr Trump's Republican allies.

Kurdish forces were key US allies in defeating the Islamic State in Syria.

Trump's surprise move - described by the main Kurdish-led group as a "stab in the back" - goes against the advice of senior officials in the Pentagon and state department.

Critics say the withdrawal could facilitate an IS resurgence and leave Kurdish forces at risk of being attacked by Turkey, which regards them as terrorists. But Mr Trump warned  Turkey not to take advantage of his decision, saying he could "destroy and obliterate" its economy.

 Last year, the US raised tariffs on some Turkish products and imposed sanctions on top officials as relations between the two Nato countries worsened over a number of issues.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his aim is to combat Kurdish fighters in the border area and set up a "safe zone" for up to two million of the more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey.

In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said "the Department of Defense made clear to Turkey - as did the president - that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in Northern Syria".

Earlier, Mr Trump said it was time "to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal" and that "Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out".

In the place of clarity we only have President Trump's tweets and statements which appear to contradict him from both the state department and the Pentagon. This morning he appeared to signal the start of a US troop pullout from Syria and seemed to be washing his hands of the country, implicitly giving a green light for a major Turkish incursion.

Now both the state department and the Pentagon say there is no major shift in US policy; that only a handful of US troops have been pulled back for their own safety, fearing some Turkish move. And they insist that this administration, including the president, stands firmly against any further Turkish move across the border.

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