Let Kurds be, Trump warns Tur­key

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - DEB RIECHMAN

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump warned Sun­day that if Tur­key at­tacks U.S.-backed Kur­dish forces in Syria, the United States will “dev­as­tate Tur­key eco­nom­i­cally.”

Trump’s de­ci­sion to pull Amer­i­can troops out of Syria has left the United States’ Kur­dish al­lies vul­ner­a­ble to an at­tack. Ankara views the Kur­dish forces as ter­ror­ists aligned with in­sur­gents in­side Tur­key.

In a tweet, Trump also warned the Kur­dish forces not to “pro­voke Tur­key.”

The U.S. with­drawal has be­gun with ship­ments of mil­i­tary equip­ment, U.S. de­fense of­fi­cials said. But in com­ing weeks, the con­tin­gent of about 2,000 troops is ex­pected to de­part even as the White House says it will keep pres­sure on the Is­lamic State net­work.

Once the troops are gone, the U.S. will have ended three years of or­ga­niz­ing, arm­ing, ad­vis­ing and pro­vid­ing air cover for Syr­ian, Kur­dish and Arab fight­ers in an open-ended cam­paign de­vised by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion to deal the mil­i­tants a last­ing de­feat.

“Start­ing the long over­due pull­out from Syria while hit­ting the lit­tle re­main­ing ISIS ter­ri­to­rial caliphate hard, and from many di­rec­tions,” Trump tweeted. “Will at­tack again from ex­ist­ing nearby base if it re­forms. Will dev­as­tate Tur­key eco­nom­i­cally if they hit Kurds.”

Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan of Tur­key, re­it­er­ated that Tur­key con­sid­ered the Kur­dish fight­ers ter­ror­ists.

“Tur­key ex­pects the US to honor our strate­gic part­ner­ship and doesn’t want it to be shad­owed by ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda,” he wrote.

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Thomas Gib­bons-Neff of The New York Times.

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