Amer­ica threat­ens to visit eco­nomic ruin on Turks

The Australian - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON: Don­ald Trump warned Tur­key yes­ter­day of eco­nomic dev­as­ta­tion if it at­tacked Kur­dish forces in the wake of the US troop pull­out from Syria, while also urg­ing the Kurds not to “pro­voke” Ankara.

Mr Trump took to Twit­ter to re­veal some of his lat­est thoughts in the slow drip of in­for­ma­tion be­ing re­leased by his ad­min­is­tra­tion after his sur­pris­ing De­cem­ber an­nounce­ment of a troop with­drawal.

US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo is on a whirl­wind re­gional tour to shore up sup­port against Iran and re­as­sure al­lies amid ris­ing ten­sions be­tween the US and Tur­key over the fate of Wash­ing­ton’s Syr­ian Kur­dish al­lies in the fight against Is­lamic State.

Mr Pom­peo was to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man in Riyadh. He said he would seek as­sur­ances that the mur­der­ers of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi would be held “ac­count­able”. US in­tel­li­gence ser­vices and the Se­nate hold Mo­hammed re­spon­si­ble for the mur­der of Khashoggi in the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul last Oc­to­ber.

Mr Pom­peo also sought to re­as­sure Wash­ing­ton’s Kur­dish al­lies in the fight against ISIS, who fear the de­par­ture of Amer­i­can troops would al­low Tur­key to at­tack them. Tur­key had re­acted an­grily to sug­ges­tions Mr Trump’s plan to with­draw troops was con­di­tional on the safety of the US-backed Kur­dish fight­ers, seen by the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment as ter­ror­ists.

“Will dev­as­tate Tur­key eco­nom­i­cally if they hit Kurds,” Mr Trump tweeted, while push­ing for the cre­ation of a 30km safe zone. “Like­wise, do not want the Kurds to pro­voke Tur­key.”

US-led op­er­a­tions against ISIS in Syria have been spear­headed on the ground by the Kur­dish-dom­i­nated Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces. Ankara sees the back­bone of that al­liance, the Kur­dish Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units, as a ter­ror­ist group linked to the Kur­dis­tan Worker’s Party, which has fought a long in­sur­gency against the Turk­ish state.

On Sat­ur­day, more than 600 peo­ple were evac­u­ated from the re­main­ing ISIS hold­out in eastern Syria, as US-backed fight­ers pre­pare for a fi­nal as­sault on the area.

“Start­ing the long over­due pull­out from Syria while hit­ting the lit­tle re­main­ing ISIS ter­ri­to­rial caliphate hard, and from many di­rec­tions. Will at­tack again from ex­ist­ing nearby base if it re­forms,” Mr Trump said.

About 300 SDF com­bat­ants had de­ployed near the vil­lage of Sousa in prepa­ra­tions for a fi­nal as­sault on the ji­hadists.

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