US president Donald Trump, in his penchant for unvarnished words, sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, warning him from being a "tough guy" and issuing an outright threat to strike a "good deal" with the Kurds, who had been the American military’s strongest ally in its fight against the IS.
"Let’s work out a good deal!" Trump wrote in the letter dated 9 October, the day Turkey launched its incursion into northeastern Syria and three days since Trump ordered a pullback of US troops.
EXCLUSIVE: I have obtained a copy of @realDonaldTrump’s letter to #Erdogan. @POTUS warns him to not “be a tough guy! Don’t be a fool!” Says he could destroy Turkey’s economy if #Syria is not resolved in a humane way. Details tonight at 8pm #TrishRegan #FoxBusiness pic.twitter.com/9BoSGlbRyt
— Trish Regan (@trish_regan) October 16, 2019
In his trademark style and an unconventional approach to diplomacy, the tone of Trump's letter remained consistent, issuing a warning that he could destroy Turkey's economy if the situation in Syria is not contained and resolved in a humane way.
"You don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will," read Trump's letter, first obtained by a Fox Business reporter Trish Regan on Wednesday.
Three days after appearing to greenlight an invasion by withdrawing US troops from the Kurdish-dominated region, Trump told the Turkish president that he shouldn't run the risk of history branding him a "devil".
In language shorn of diplomatic niceties, Trump said, "History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way," adding "It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen."
The US leader told Erdogan a "great deal" was possible if he negotiated with the head of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Mazloum Abdi, whom Turkey has labelled a "terrorist" for his ties to the Kurdish PKK militants in Turkey.
"General Mazloum is willing to negotiate with you, and he is willing to make concessions that they would never have made in the past. I am confidentially enclosing a copy of his letter to me, just received," Trump wrote.
"Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool," he finished, adding: "I will call you later."
The US president letter's was met with incredulity, with many at first questioning its legitimacy and some even labeling it a "joke" and an "embarrassment".
Reacting sharply to Trump's "confidential" enclosure of Mazloum's letter, Ned Price, a former CIA officer and National Security Council spokesman said:
"These words on White House stationary should embarrass all Americans, but Trump's confidential enclosure of the SDF Commander's letter will give our allies even less reason to trust America. Is this a common practice? How much NATO correspondence has been forwarded to Putin?
Speaking to CNN Democratic congressman Mike Quigley said, "I actually thought it was a prank, a joke, that it couldn’t possibly come from the Oval Office. It sounds all the world like the president of the United States, in some sort of momentary lapse, just dictated angrily whatever was on the top of his head."
Quigley, a member of the House intelligence committee, continued: "For him to write this and to also say that it doesn’t affect us is ignorance at the highest level."
With inputs from AFP
Updated Date: Oct 17, 2019 09:36:12 IST